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col The best #x2026;; and worst#x2026;of; 28 years covering politics

If lawn signs are any indication, the 2006 political season is already well underway.

But if you need more proof, it comes Tuesday. It's primary election day.

I enjoy the dynamics of politics -- the idea of choosing a select few individuals from various walks of life and giving them the power to create laws to govern the rest of us. Only in the field of politics could you compile a list of "notable Minnesotans" and include the names of Hubert Humphrey and Jesse Ventura. Politics represents diversity in the extreme.

So without further ado, here is my personal list of the Best, Worst and Most Unusual in 28 years of covering political campaigns:

MOST UNUSABLE INTERVIEW: U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz arrived late for a dinner-time campaign appearance before the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, and had just enough time to grab a plate of appetizers before his speech. He agreed to do an interview with me while he ate -- and proceeded to eat an entire plate of carrot sticks during our interview. Do you have any idea how loud carrot sticks are on the radio?

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It's funny when Bugs Bunny does it; it loses it's charm when it comes from a U.S. Senator.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD: During an interview with the late U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy at the Mower County Fair, he talked about growing up in Watkins, Minn. I mentioned that I had relatives in the Watkins area, and when he asked for names I ran through a list -- and he remembered going to school with my Aunt Gladys. I voted for Mr. McCarthy that year.

THE "NO RELATIVES" RULE:" As the only person in a one-man news department, time was a precious commodity. So I had a rule that a campaign stop by a candidate's spouse, parents, children or family pet would not be covered. I did, however, make an exception for Tipper Gore in the days before the 2000 presidential election, hoping she would be more entertaining than her husband. She was.

MY BIGGEST POLITICAL THRILL: Walter Mondale made history by naming Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in the 1984 presidential election, and their first joint appearance was at Mondale's boyhood home in Elmore, Minn. I fought through the hundreds of national media who converged on Elmore that day to cover the Mondale-Ferraro news conference. I even took my Kodak Instamatic camera and took pictures until one of Mondale's media people told me to stop. Seems that news photographers don't use Instamatics. Who knew.

MOST UNFAIRLY MALIGNED: I was waiting in a meeting room at a Rochester hotel for a news conference with Vice President Dan Quayle, sitting with my back to the door. Suddenly, everyone in the room stood up, so I stood, too -- and found myself face to face with the vice president. For some reason I held my hand out and introduced myself, and Mr. Quayle shook my hand and said warmly "Nice to meet you, Dan." I didn't wash my hand for a week.

DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING: When the first President Bush made a campaign appearance in Rochester on Nov. 2, 1990, the rally began with an unexpected surprise: Wayne Newton took the stage before the president to sing the national anthem. I'm not sure which was more exciting.

DAN'S RULE OF POLITICS: If you don't vote, you can't complain afterward. See you at the polls.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson, and their son.

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