The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 9, 2013

Campaign Notebook: Special election hits the home stretch

The abbreviated campaign for the District 19A seat in the state House of Representatives is down to its final two days.

Attempting to make up ground after giving Republican Allen Quist and Independence Party candidate Tim Gieseke a two-week head start, the DFL had a large door-knocking crew at work on Saturday for Democratic nominee Clark Johnson — including House Speaker Paul Thissen in North Mankato.

Democrats also have two popular incumbents scheduled to headline a rally in St. Peter Monday as the party works to retain the seat they’ve held continuously for nearly a decade.

Radio ads are running on behalf of all three candidates, and Republicans were recruiting volunteers to go door-to-door with Quist brochures and fill phone-bank hours through Tuesday as all sides predict that get-out-the-vote efforts will be key to victory in what is expected to be a relatively low-turnout election.

Back to the Future

It’s been just 12 days since the field was officially set for Tuesday’s special election in District 19A to pick a successor to Terry Morrow, a St. Peter Democrat who resigned the seat to take a job in Chicago.

But it was three decades ago that Quist and Johnson first took the plunge into politics with a run for the state House. Minnesota State University political science professor Joe Kunkel dug through his collection of campaign literature and found brochures from Quist’s inaugural run in 1982 and Johnson’s 1984 campaign.

“Maybe there’s a story there — ‘Battle of the Beards ...’” Kunkel wrote.

Both candidates, shown the photos, recalled those first forays into running for office.

“We’ve both changed a little bit,” Quist said.

Quist said he was cleaning a plugged culvert on his farm when a neighbor and longtime Republican activists stopped by.

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