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Minnesota's Right Turn

The election of November 2002 turned the bulk of government over to the Republican Party in Minnesota. Although most of the campaign focused on economic issues, GOP legislators were able to successfully pass a conservative social agenda, confident that their plans were consistent with what the state's voters were demanding. What is the impact of a liberal state becoming a conservative stronghold?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty

House Speaker Steve Sviggum

Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger

2002 Election Results (MPR)
2002 Election Results (MPR)
2003 legislative coverage (MPR)
League of Women Voters

Broadcast editors: Mike Mulcahy, Bill Wareham, Mike Edgerly
Online editor: Bob Collins
Interactive editor: Julia Schrenkler
Art director: Ben Tesch

Go to story Document Did Minnesota take a right turn?
As a 10-year member of the Legislature, Gov. Tim Pawlenty saw plenty of political skirmishes over abortion, high school graduation standards, business liability, and handguns. He lost them all. In 2003, he won them all. Last year's election produced a bumber crop of Republican victories.

Go to story Document The power shifts to the suburbs
The growth of Minnesota's suburbs became apparent in last year's elections. The redistricting that occurs every 10 years to account for population shifts added 12 legislative seats to suburbs in the seven-county metropolitan area. Last November, all but one of those new seats went Republican. But analysts say suburban voters are volatile, and they may not vote Republican in 2004.

Go to story Document Pawlenty: Moderate or right-wing conservative?
Two of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's most important assets are his winning smile and his easy disposition. Even his biggest critics say it's hard not to like him. But political opponents are quick to charge that behind the friendly demeanor lurks a radical agenda that is steering Minnesota off-course. Pawlenty and his allies, however, point to crushing victories at the ballot box last year as evidence that their roadmap is exactly what Minnesotans want.

Go to story Document What happened to the DFL?
The Republican landslide in November's election left Democrats with little leverage at the state Capitol. Only the Senate remained in DFL control, and by the slimmest DFL margin since the state began partisan elections in the early 1970s. The result was predictable. Although they managed to blunt the impact of some of the proposed Republican budget cuts, no major DFL initiatives succeeded in the last session.

Go to story Document Is Minnesota still #1?
Minnesota's new budget has been law for barely a month, too soon for nonprofits, local government officials and health care professionals to know its full impact. Critics warned the budget would threaten Minnesota's high quality of life.

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