Historic night for GOP, but now the hard work begins

Monday's Opinions Page included the headline "Vote for the person, not the party."

We believe plenty of voters did precisely that — and in many cases, that person happened to be  Republican.

It was a stunning evening for the GOP. The word "historic" springs to mind, and with good reason.

Almost no one saw this coming. The DFL went from having a veto-proof majority in the Minnesota Senate to being the minority party, and among those swept out of office by the GOP tidal wave was  Sen. Ann Lynch of Rochester. 

The outcome in the House was even more surprising — GOP strategists hardly dared dream that the party could overcome an 87-47 deficit. That's precisely what happened, and locally, Rep. Andy Welti, a six-year incumbent DFLer, was ousted. That means Rochester's brief run as a solidly DFL area is over, at least for two years, with four of the area's six legislators being Republicans.


Unfortunately, we don't yet know if the GOP-controlled Legislature will have a governor who is ready and eager to sign off on bills that promote smaller government, lower taxes and reduced spending. As Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again," as a recount in the race between Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton appears certain.

We can only hope that Minnesota learned something last time, and that this recount won't be plagued by political grandstanding and endless legal squabbles. We're already hearing some statements that indicate a long, grueling battle ahead, but Minnesota absolutely must have a governor in place when the 2011 Legislature convenes.

Overall, it was a fascinating election, and voters' frustration with the status quo was evident, even beyond the partisan races. For example, Olmsted County Sheriff Steve VonWald will yield to Dave Mueller — meaning that we'll have a new, elected sheriff for the first time in 20 years. Here's hoping that this will end the troubling "retire-and-appoint-my-successor" practice that is all-too-common.

VonWald wasn't the only sheriff to lose his badge. Dodge County voters, perhaps weary of the scandals and allegations that have hung like a cloud over their sheriff's office, opted for Jim Jensen over incumbent Jim Trihey. We met Jensen two years ago when he ran for the Legislature, and we think Dodge County has made a great choice.

Nationally, Republicans regained control of the House, but Democrats narrowly held onto control of the Senate.

Perhaps this is exactly the outcome we needed. With split government comes dual responsibility, as neither party can sit back and say, "Well, the other guys are running things, and if they fail, we look good." With shared power, failure means everyone looks bad.  

We hope our elected officials recognize this. We'd like to believe they'll rise to the occasion and heed the message voters have sent, because without bipartisan cooperation in Minnesota and Washington, nothing will be accomplished during the next two years.

We can't afford to let that happen. We can't afford to mark time until January of 2012, when we expect one of the most divisive and bitter presidential campaigns in history to begin.


We need action, not actors. We need leaders, not cable TV personalities. We need cooperation. We need coalitions. We need thinkers, not reciters of sound bytes.

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