The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 7, 2008

Final tallies in for area voters

By Mark Fischenich

MANKATO — It’s over (other than that one Senate race).

And with only 724 days until the Nov. 2, 2010, midterm election, one would expect to get a respite from campaigning for a year or so. But one candidate who came up short Tuesday is making clear he’s already looking ahead to a rematch.

“I’m disappointed with the loss,” wrote Mike Bidwell of North Mankato in an e-mail Wednesday morning. “However, I don’t view this as a 4 month campaign for 2008, but 28 month campaign for 2010. ... The challenge continues.”

Bidwell was a last-minute Republican challenger to state Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter — just beating the July 15 filing deadline when no other GOP candidates had stepped forward. Morrow won 64 percent of the vote in District 23A, which stretches from North Mankato to Gaylord and Winthrop.

McCain wins most area counties
A few numbers from the presidential race in south-central Minnesota:

Blue Earth County voters were most favorable toward Barack Obama (55 percent), followed by Nicollet (54). Watonwan County was the only other regional county to support the president-elect, giving him a narrow 49-48 percent win over Republican nominee John McCain.

All other counties favored McCain, led by Sibley (58 percent) and Martin (56). Other counties won by McCain were Brown (55 percent), Waseca (53), Faribault (52) and Le Sueur (51).

Hispanic voters, who preferred Obama by overwhelming margins nationally, probably made the difference for Obama in Watonwan County — where he won by 35 votes. The St. James Plaindealer reported that in one city precinct new Hispanic registrations were four times higher than four years ago by 11 a.m. Election Day.

Franken comes up short in region
In the still-to-be-decided Senate race, Democrat Al Franken didn’t come close to matching Obama’s support in south-central Minnesota. Franken beat incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman only in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, but in both cases the former “Saturday Night Live” writer’s percentages were 13 points lower than Obama’s.

That was enough to beat Coleman by narrow margins in those counties, but Coleman won by 17 percentage points in Sibley County, 14 in Brown and Martin, 10 in Waseca, 7 in Le Sueur and 1 in Watonwan.

Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley performed better than his statewide average of 15 percent in all area counties, ranging from 18 percent in Blue Earth County to 26 percent in Sibley.

Walz offers coattails
The one candidate area counties were unanimous on was Democratic Congressman Tim Walz of Mankato. He won ’em all on his way to picking up 63 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Republican challenger Brian Davis of Rochester.

The Franken campaign may have given a pre-election hint of what internal polling was showing about Walz’s popularity. Walz’s voice was used in a robo-call to district residents, urging them to “please vote for Al Franken,” promising Franken “will work with Barack Obama to bring fundamental change.”

The call gave Walz a chance to return the favor from two years ago when he was a little-known candidate and Franken brought his celebrity power to several Walz events, including walking with him in the St. Peter Fourth of July parade.

A record total
Did Walz set a record for number of votes received by a 1st District candidate? Walz’s percentage of the vote received was the highest since former Democratic Congressman Tim Penny won 74 percent of the ballots in drubbing Republican Tim Droogsma in 1992, substantially higher than Walz’s 63 percent.

But Walz picked up 207,749 votes, according to the unofficial final tally, compared to Penny’s 206,369 in 1992.

E-mails without end
The political e-mails to The Free Press have returned to a manageable level of a dozen or so a day.

After totaling 614 campaign-related e-mails in August and 1,335 in September, the inbox was weighed down by 1,623 in October. Another 166 arrived between Nov. 1 and the official end of the 2008 campaign e-mail season — the 2:24 a.m. Nov. 5 e-mail from Ralph Nader congratulating Obama on his victory.

An inter-switched acrimony ATM
The total number of e-mails appears to be about triple the number from the 2006 campaign — but some other political reporter may be wading through the e-mail cess pool next time around. That’s because late on election night, The Free Press political reporter finally found something worthwhile in the inbox — an e-mail from Bult Carl, Obama group award coordinator.

“Dear lucky winner,

“Obama group member and investors all over the world and Barack Hussein Obama has given you a free offer and award which is about $750,000.00 (SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS), which will be given to you immediately.”

Yes! After getting various personal information together and forwarding it to Mr. Carl, a very special ATM card will be coming this way.

“The acrimony ATM Card means Automated Teller Machine Card. This card is universally accepted all over the word. ... The ability of the card to dispense cash from any ATM Machine, is its unique attribute of being inter-switched.”

Ka-ching! An inter-switched ATM Card with a $750,000 balance. Now, there’s some change we can believe in.