The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 9, 2013

Campaign Notebook: Special election hits the home stretch


With waders on, up to his thighs in ice-cold water, Quist was quizzed about whether he’d be interested in running for the Legislature. He eventually agreed to seek the seat, which was left open with the retirement of Democratic Rep. Carl Johnson, survived a marathon endorsing convention that Quist remembered lasting more than 20 rounds of balloting and won in November of 1982.

Quist won re-election in 1984 (and in 1986 before losing twice to St. Peter Democrat Don Ostrom in 1988 and 1990) while fellow Republican Mark Piepho was winning the neighboring House seat in Mankato. Piepho’s opponent? A young Clark Johnson.

Mankato was in its final stages as a Republican-leaning town back then, and Clark stayed active as a volunteer in the DFL Party following his defeat as other Democrats such as Ostrom, John Dorn and John Hottinger began winning area legislative seats in ensuing elections. This year marks the first time he’s run for office since that initial attempt.

“I’ve been joking, if I don’t win this time, I’ll have to do it again in 28 years,” Johnson said.

He’s makin’ a list ...

A month ago, Republicans settled on Quist as their candidate and the Independence Party made Gieseke their nominee, but the Democrats didn’t officially settle on Johnson until a Jan. 29 primary election.

Quist said the two-week head start was used primarily for planning and organizing, despite that his congressional campaign had only been moth-balled for six weeks following his Nov. 6 loss to Democratic Congressman Tim Walz.

“A legislative campaign is a lot different than a congressional campaign,” Quist said.

Much of the work involved identification of likely Republican voters to contact and encourage to vote on Tuesday.

“We have an identified-Republican list, which is not very good,” he said. “So we’re trying to improve it, because the name of the game in specials is identifying your supporters and getting them to the polls, obviously.”

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