Election marks huge win for Minnesota workers
By Barb Kucera, Workday editor 7 November 2012
|ST. PAUL - Unions are calling Tuesday’s election a huge win for Minnesota workers. In addition to the re-election of President Obama, workers will benefit from the new DFL majority in the state Legislature and the defeat of two proposed constitutional amendments.
|“An amazing night for Labor-endorsed candidates!” the Minnesota AFL-CIO tweeted just after midnight.
The DFL takeover of the Minnesota House and Senate was viewed as possible, but the margin – strong majorities in both houses – was unanticipated. Two years ago, most political observers were caught off-guard when Republicans won control. This year, the labor movement put renewed emphasis on electing labor-endorsed candidates – most of them DFLers – in races across the state.
Tuesday’s election gives the DFL a 39-28 advantage in the Senate and a 73-61 majority in the House. For the first time, DFL Governor Mark Dayton will have the opportunity to work with a DFL-controlled Legislature to address the state’s budget issues and other challenges.
The DFL win means unions won’t have to fight anti-labor measures, like the so-called “Right to Work” initiative launched by Republicans earlier this year. Several legislators who pushed legislation attacking public employees, including Rep. Keith Downey – who was seeking election to the state Senate – were defeated.
In addition to mobilizing members to support labor-endorsed candidates, unions were part of broad-based coalitions working to defeat two proposed constitutional amendments on marriage and voting. Unions portrayed the amendment to define marriage as only between one man and one woman as an assault on human rights. And they argued the voter identification amendment was poorly written and would disenfranchise many voters.
In northeastern Minnesota, unions put a major focus on electing Democrat Rick Nolan, who defeated incumbent Republican Chip Cravaack for the 8th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Labor-backed Amy Klobuchar easily won re-election to the U.S. Senate.