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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published November 07 2012

Election Notebook: Democrats say they will control state Senate

ST. PAUL – The top Minnesota Senate Democrat said early today that his party has regained control it held for 38 years.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, told a crowd gathered in a St. Paul hotel ballroom that Democrats have “taken back the Senate” with at least 34 members in the 67-person body.

Bakk’s declaration was not official as returns continued to trickle in early today.

“The direction certainly is going that way,” Senate Republican spokesman Steve Sviggum said of a DFL win.

Both sides were careful because votes were slow to be counted Tuesday night.

“It’s too early to tell, but we are encouraged by the high voter turnout and the results in the presidential race and the Senate race in Minnesota,” said Zach Rodvold of the DFL House campaign committee. “With so many close races, however, we expect to be in for a long night waiting for returns.”

Democratic-Farmer-Laborite candidates were doing well late Tuesday as Minnesotans picked all 201 legislators.

With newly drawn legislative district lines this year, and many seats without an incumbent, more than the usual number of close races developed, further delaying word on who will be in charge of the state House and Senate.

Obama wins Minnesota

Minnesota went for President Barack Obama for the second time, following his win nationwide.

While, pre-election polls offered conflicting views about whether Minnesota was in play in the presidential election, the president did will in Minnesota, collecting nearly 52 percent of the vote in incomplete returns.

Nationally, each candidate had about 49 percent of the vote late Tuesday, but news organizations counted 290 electoral votes for Obama, 20 more than needed.

In an overflowing downtown St. Paul hotel ballroom where Democrats gathered, the crowd erupted when news services projected Obama the national at about 10:20 p.m. Obama was declared the Minnesota winner before 9 p.m.

“I’m thrilled that President Obama was re-elected, and I know that he’ll spend the next four years keeping our country moving forward,” U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said. “He understands that we must tackle our budget deficit in a balanced way, which includes spending cuts, increases in revenue, and investments in the things that have always grown our economy: education, infrastructure, and research and development. We picked the right guy for the job four years ago, and we did it again tonight.”

The upset Republicans wanted in Minnesota never occurred.

Turnout heavy in state

Minnesotans may disagree about a pair of proposed constitutional amendments and may not see eye to eye on candidates, but they agree on one thing: They want their voices heard.

Big voter turnout was reported in much of the state, despite cloudy, damp, chilly weather.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie had predicted 3 million Minnesotans, 78 percent of eligible voters, would go to the polls Tuesday. Official turnout numbers were not available Tuesday night.

This report contains reports from Forum Communications newspapers around Minnesota and free-lance reporters Andrew Tellijohn and Martin Owings.