DFL takes back Legislature; both amendments fail

The Minnesota DFL posted big victories in the 2012 election, recapturing both the state House and Senate and defeating two Republican-supported constitutional amendments.

The state also contributed to a good night for national Democrats, delivering an 8-point win for President Barack Obama, re-electing Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate and gaining one U.S. House seat in northern Minnesota, where DFLer Rick Nolan defeated Republican incumbent Chip Cravaack. 

“There’s a moment where you have to sort of pinch yourself and say, hey, is this real?” said State Rep. Frank Hornstein of Southwest. “Because we aren’t used to having nights like this, where everything — everything — goes well.”

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, it appeared on Nov. 7 that the DFL had taken control of the Senate 39–28 and the House 73–61. A couple races were extremely close and could end in recounts, but it appeared the DFL would hold both houses. 

That means the DFL will control the Legislature and the Governorship for the first time since 1990. 

“I think you’re going to definitely see a very progressive agenda, and one in which we try to invest in our state’s infrastructure, be it roads, bridges, transit, schools,” Hornstein said. 

Southwest state Rep. Paul Thissen is very likely to be named Speaker of the House by his DFL colleagues. They were set to vote on leadership posts on Nov. 8, which was after the Southwest Journal went to press. Hornstein also has a good chance of being named chair of a committee. 

Hornstein attributes the DFL’s sweep to strong candidates in suburban districts. He attributes the defeat of both amendments to a strong grassroots effort not seen since the days of Paul Wellstone. 

Southwest played a major role in electing Obama and defeating the amendments — one which would have limited marriage to a man and a women and one which would have required a photo ID to vote. 

On election day, Obama’s campaign office at Spring House Ministry Center was buzzing around 1 p.m. Volunteers were working the phone lines. Others were shuffling in and out as they went door knocking to urge people to vote. 

A little ways north, at the Eat Streets Flats building on Franklin and Nicollet, the Minnesotans United for All Families organization was working its ground game to encourage people to vote against the marriage amendment, although exact numbers weren’t available as of press time due to ballot counting issues in three Minneapolis precincts.

After getting some pointers from staff, State Sen. Scott Dibble, Hornstein and others headed out toward Uptown, to encourage residents to vote against the amendment. 

In Dibble’s senate district, only about 15 percent of voters cast ballots in support of the marriage amendment. 

The amendments, as well as Obama’s re-election, drove Southwest voters to the polls. 

Aaron Janson, 33, voted for Obama and against both amendments at Whittier Park. 

“I definitely don’t want Mitt Romney to be the president,” Janson said. “I think Obama has done a pretty good job. A lot of us who worked for him and voted for him last time feel like he could have been better on this thing or that thing, but I believe you don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, and I think he’s been very solid.”

Eu-k Hua, 19, went to the polls for the first time ever with his mother, Tammy Wong. For Hua, the amendments were very important, and he voted against both. 

“Obviously, some people think yes, marriage is for one man and one woman,” he said. “We feel love is important, no matter what, no matter the circumstance. Let people do what they want.”