The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 6, 2012

District 24: Jensen, Swedin seek Parry’s Senate seat

WASECA — Waseca area residents are getting a taste of the intense political battle for control of the Minnesota Senate.

With state Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, making an unsuccessful run for Congress instead of seeking re-election to the Legislature, his Senate District 24 seat is seen as winnable by both Democrats and Republicans, who are trying to retain control of the majority after four decades of DFL dominance.

Vicki Jensen, DFL-Owatonna, is co-owner of an independent insurance agency, serves on the Owatonna School Board and is an active member of the local chamber of commerce. She’s also destined to be a big-spending stooge of labor unions if elected to the Senate, according to mailers being sent by the Republican Party to district voters.

Vern Swedin, R-Owatonna, is an entrepreneur who has started several small businesses, including his first at age 20, and has taken multiple mission trips with his church to help feed poverty-stricken residents of Haiti. He’s also a failed business owner who left creditors in the lurch when his construction company went bankrupt, according to advertising run by a liberal organization promoting the election of Democrats to the Legislature.

The district dominated by the cities of Waseca and Owatonna hasn’t been particularly competitive over the years, but it has shown a strong independent streak and has been trending more Democratic.

Its two most recent senators also have been among the Senate’s more colorful characters. During Sen. Dick Day’s 20 years, he was known for speaking his mind — including when he was frustrated with fellow Republicans.

Day resigned late in 2009 and was replaced by Parry in a special election. While Day was well-liked by many Democratic colleagues, Parry was a lightning rod at the Capitol and had a particularly difficult relationship with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

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