I arrived at the Republican Party of Minnesota's victory party Tuesday night, at the Bloomington Sheraton (née Radisson South), already in full swing: the main ballroom was crowded with activists, staff, and media, lots of media. Party animals roamed the halls in search of candidates and the best free food. These parties are a combination of a huge New Year's Eve party and a political rally-palooza. I look forward to them as a great biennial reward for all of the volunteer political and campaign work.
My first stop was the hospitality room of Sheriff Rich Stanek, who ran unopposed for the top lawman in Hennepin County. I congratulated the Sheriff and greeted his campaign manager, both of whom accompanied HD43B candidate Brian Grogan and a group of campaign volunteers on a neighborhood door-knocking this fall. Sheriff Stanek made many visible endorsements of legislative candidates (including Grogan) this cycle. A five-term former Minnesota legislator with a commanding presence, some wonder whether Stanek is doing some advance planning for a run at higher office.
I got the bad news about Norann Dillon's challenge for the SD43 state senate seat from the candidate herself. (Detailed analysis of the Senate and House races in SD43 to follow.)
I stopped by the media pit to say hello to Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey, who where live on the air for AM 1280 The Patriot. Live blogging at the same table was Luke Hellier of Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Minnesota Public Radio and several small local radio stations also had live broadcasts underway. The TV people had raised platforms along two walls of the ballroom, stuffed with their lights, gear, and boxes of pizza and soft drinks.
I remembered struggling in previous years to get a decent photo of the candidates delivering their victory speeches, so this year I planted myself at the front of the stage, under the TV lights, and waited. This enabled me to get some great video of Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN3), Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN6), and Rep. John Kline (MN2) all deliver their re-election victory speeches.
Fellow blogger and activist Walter Hudson was fresh from speaking to a group of Carleton College students about conservative ideas. "They just don't get it," said Hudson. We agreed on the need for conservative outreach to younger people (an idea also advocated by Katie Kieffer, katiekieffer.com), but lamented about the entrenched liberal mindset in the public schools and higher ed.
Derek Brigham (Freedom Dogs) was the first to alert me to rumors, later proven true, of double vote counting, ballot machine malfunctions, and other irregularities in the election process on Tuesday. While we were conversing, someone told us that the Star Tribune on its web site called Republican majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, a stunning announcement. Minutes later, Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester) confirmed the projections from the podium.
Later, Republican Party of Minnesota chairman Tony Sutton announced that over 60,000 votes erroneously tallied for Mark Dayton were just moved into Tom Emmer's column, closing Dayton's lead to 5 percentage points from 7, where it had been stuck throughout the middle part of the evening.
All of the local results were happening on a backdrop of the national wave of Republican victories. We cheered when, on the big screen, Fox News announced the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and other key races across the country. This made for an overall happier party than in the past three cycles, more like 2002.