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11 ex-legislators successfully fight their way back to the Capitol

MinnPost photo by James Nord
After last week's election, DFL legislative leaders are welcoming back several members who lost their seats in the Republican wave of 2010.

Some lawmakers leave the Legislature to pursue a career or to transition into a different branch of government, but some simply meet defeat at the polls.

And many of those try to return.

Ten DFLers and one Republican successfully fit the bill this cycle. (You can learn more about them and the other 2013 legislators by checking out our new interactive graphic here.)

Eight  of the DFLers were voted out of office during the 2010 Republican wave that swept Democrats out of  legislative control for the first time in 40 years. Now they’re back with a record of their own — matched legislative majorities with a DFL governor for the first time in roughly two decades.

There are eight Democrats returning to the House:

  • Connie Bernardy of Fridley (District 41A). She served from 2001 to 2006.
  • David Bly of Northfield (20B). Served 2007-10.
  • Ron Erhardt of Edina (49A). Served from 1991 to 2008 as a Republican.
  • Tim Faust of Hinckley (11B). Served 2007-10.
  • Sandra Masin of Eagan (51A). Served 2007-10.
  • Will Morgan  of Burnsville (56B). Served 2007-10.
  • Jerry Newton of Coon Rapids (37A). Served 2009-10.
  • Paul Rosenthal of Edina (49B). Served 2009-10.

And three in the Senate:

  • Jim Carlson of Eagan (District 51). Served 2007-10.
  • Kevin Dahle of Northfield (20). Served 2008-10.
  • Carrie Ruud of Breezy Point(10). The lone Republican among the 11 returnees, she served from 2003-06.

Democrats like Jim Carlson, who beat first-term Republican Sen. Ted Daley in District 51 in Eagan, are heading back to the Capitol.

“It was a crushing blow, and it wasn’t without me being somewhat prepared for it,” Carlson said about his 2010 defeat, noting that his caucus and friendly outside groups seemed unprepared for the results.

The defeat charged up Carlson, who is determined to pay back the school fund shift used last time to help balance the budget.

“We’re running like we’re 5 points behind,” Carlson said in late September, noting that there was “way too much overconfidence by the DFL” in 2010. This time, Democrats took all three seats in District 51.

Returning Rep. David Bly said the same problems plagued him when Republican Kelby Woodard ousted him in 2010 by about 30 votes. Redistricting shifted Woodard to a new area, and Bly easily defeated his opponent Brian Wermerskirchen by 14 points this cycle.

Bly said he didn’t notice Tea Party angst this time when he was door-knocking  and instead found voters focused on getting rid of extreme politics. He also said his new district more heavily favored a Democrat, which “made it clear to me that this was something worth trying to do.”

Carlson said he looks forward to returning to St. Paul as a stronger lawmaker than he would have been for the 2011 session.

“We didn’t get everything done,” he said of his previous stint in the Senate from 2007 through 2010. “My whole effort for running was to give back to my community.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/12/2012 - 10:05 am.

    My hope for the new DFL majority would be to lean centrist and learn from the GOP’s political over-reach. The DFL should partner with the GOP and craft broad bi-partisan budget and tax reform proposals. Reach out and share some of the credit. This will be a defining moment for the DFL and voters will not be shy when it comes to grading them in two years.

  2. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 11/12/2012 - 10:56 am.

    And then there were 12

    Alice Johnson in Senate District 37 also returned as a former legislator. Alice first served in the House, admirably serving as the Chair of the Education Committee. She returns as a Senator with a host of leadership skills. One would hope that those leadership skills and years of service will catapult her to a leadership position in the Senate.

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/12/2012 - 07:09 pm.

      Too late!

      Leadership posts taken within two days of the election leaving little time for newcomers.

      Her omission from the article is surprising.

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 11/12/2012 - 01:09 pm.

    Do they get Seniority?

    Does the first service dates give them seniority over new comers first elected this year?

    Like Nolan in the Federal House, he gets credit for service 30 years ago and has the seniority of a 4 term Representative.

  4. Submitted by Michael Fleming on 11/12/2012 - 03:44 pm.

    If, in 2010, Emmer had won…

    Do you think the GOP faithful would have been urging their legislators to hold back on what they should do with their new power had they gotten it?

    (Actually — I agree with my fellow commenters — Tacking towards governing for all citizens, and not just the base of our party, is the right thing to do, and it’s what will ultimately define us in two years, not our willingness to run rough-shod over those who did not come out ahead in this cycle. Otherwise we stand a good chance of just doing this all over again. It’s time to end this back and forth and start governing. Of course, as much of what we have been advocating for these last few years of GOP legislatures, preceded by how many years of Gov Pawlenty, was good balanced governance, notwithstanding the slander of our ideas by those on the other side, it might not look at all different once viewed through the lens of actually doing it. Just don’t go greedy is all I say.)

  5. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 11/12/2012 - 04:38 pm.

    I would hope that Carrie Ruud

    learned something about humility during her forced ‘vacation ‘ from the legislature. If she comes back again with that ‘Michelle Bachmann aire’, she will once again be turned out.

  6. Submitted by Wm. Sweeney on 11/12/2012 - 08:27 pm.


    It will require some discipline for DFL leadership to avoid overstepping their mandate on many issues, but particularly in misinterpreting the NO vote on the Marriage Amendment. Some issues require a consensus…not a majority. Please save us all a lot of angst – and help preserve a DFL majority in the next election – by being patient on this issue.

    If allowing gay marriage is the true consensus of Minnesotans, it will come easily in the next 2-4 years.

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