Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, knew Tuesday would be a good day for the GOP when he drove to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman's pre-dawn rally at a packed Perkins Restaurant and hardly knew anyone there.
"Normally I know half the people," he said today. "I only knew five people there. These were what I call regular people. That gave me a message that conservatives were energized."
Howes, 55, defeated William Weis, 28, Pine River, by a 10,435-7,453 margin. Howes garnered 58.3 percent of the vote compared to 41.6 percent of the vote for Weis.
Conservative voters came out in force, Howes said, defying the axiom that an incumbent's party will lose strength during the midterm election.
"They sent a message," Howes said. "They wanted conservative, Republican leadership."
Howes, elected in 1998, said it was a clean campaign. He said his four years of experience plus what he termed to be Weis' dodging of pro-life questions were factors in the race.
Weis disagreed with Howes' assessment on the pro-life issue, claiming the lawmaker was trying to push emotional issues.
Weis, an executive sous chef at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, said he thought he ran a nice campaign and ran on the issues, but he was caught up in a conservative shift.
"I tend to think they (voters) were tending to go to more Republican issues," he said.
He said he would consider another run for the Legislature or some other public office.
"What else would I do with 500 signs that will be in my garage?" he said. "Hopefully I'll look forward to doing it again in two years."
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