Whether Minnesotans' political sympathies are with the Democrats, Republicans, Independents or Greens, there is one aspect of the 2002 election that should please everyone -- the state's voter turnout figures.
Minnesota once again topped the nation in voter turnout percentage with 61.4 percent. That figure compares with the paltry national voter turnout percentage of about 39 percent. Crow Wing County voters helped the Minnesota figures with a turnout of more than 80 percent this election year.
It's hard to pinpoint precisely why Minnesota has such a first-rate tradition of voting. Is it our education system? Does the strong presence of faith communities encourage civic responsibility? Do we just enjoy taking part in a good political donnybrook?
Regardless of the reason it's clear that an engaged, informed electorate is a tremendous asset for any state. To paraphrase an old saying, politics is too important a topic to be left to the politicians. The success this state has in encouraging average citizens to weigh in on public policy and sometimes jump into the political ring themselves will serve us well as we face the tough choices of the 2000s.
Gov. Ventura's Senate appointment was childish
In the long run -- really also in the short run -- it's not going to matter much what Minnesota's governor did on Monday.
But it was so childish.
An irritated Gov. Jesse Ventura built on his legacy of unpredictable behavior as governor when he named fellow Independence Party member Dean Barkley the interim U.S. senator, taking the seat of Paul Wellstone. ...
The appointment was really more about symbolism than substance. The time that Barkley will serve is so short we doubt very much there will be any real impact on legislation or policy, even though Sen. Barkley will change the makeup of that chamber to 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and two Independents.
... The governor was most gracious, respectful and even humble when he spoke to Minnesotans a few hours after Wellstone's death. He said that he would most likely name a Democrat as interim senator as a tribute to Wellstone.
Then there was the memorial service on Oct. 29 that, unfortunately, turned into a Democratic political rally. And it also appeared to change the mind of the governor.
... The next day the governor said he had changed his mind on appointing an interim senator. He might just pick someone off the street.
Well, Barkley is not just someone off the street. He is a good politician who has run for U.S. senator before as an independent and received enough votes to get the party established. He has also been the key person in the Ventura administration.
But we wish Ventura had put aside his outrage over the memorial service/rally and acted in a much more adult manner.
But, unfortunately, he chose to revert back to his old ways before Oct. 25.
-- The Mesabi Daily News of Virginia
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