DFL takes back Legislature; both amendments fail

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November 19, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

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 Minneapolis. “Because we aren’t used to having nights like this, where everything — everything — goes well.”

The DFL took control of the Senate 39-28 and the House 73-61. A couple races were extremely close and could end in recounts, but it appears the DFL will 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. 

Minneapolis resident and state Rep. Paul Thissen was named Speaker of the House by his DFL colleagues. 

The DFL maintained its stronghold on Minneapolis, sweeping all 10 House races and all five Senate districts by comfortable margins. Congressman Keith Ellison also cruised to an easy victory in the 5th District. 

In the special election for the Hennepin County Commissioner District 2 seat, Linda Higgins defeated Blong Yang with 59.39 percent of the vote.

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. 

Minneapolis 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 in the Whittier neighborhood 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.

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. 

The amendments, as well as Obama’s re-election, drove Minneapolis 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.”

Not all of Minneapolis, however, voted for Democrats. 

 “I’m here because of the critical time that we are in, to make it count by voting for Mitt Romney,” said Sue Johnson, outside of Westminster Presbyterian Church. “I vote on biblical values so [I am] voting yes on the marriage amendment. Voting yes twice.”

— Hemang Sharma contributed to this report.