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Paynesville Press - January 1, 2003

Top 12 Stories of 2002: Republicans win elections

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville area supported victorious Republican candidates for state office at the general election in November 2002. Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty, both Republicans, were supported by a majority of voters in the Paynesville area, as were state legislative candidates.

Coleman, who defeated former vice president and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale, won the Senate election with 1,116,336 votes, compared to 1,065,022 votes for Mondale, getting 49.5 percent of the vote to 47.3 for Mondale. In the Paynesville area, Coleman did better, percentage-wise, garnering nearly 58 percent of the votes.

Pawlenty also did better in the Paynesville area than in the state as a whole. Pawlenty - who got 999,039 votes statewide, a little more than 44 percent of the votes - got nearly 52 percent of the votes cast locally.

The Paynesville area also voted predominantly for Republican candidates for the state legislature. Divided into three state Senate districts and three state House districts, five of the six will be represented by Republicans when the Minnesota Legislature starting in January. Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) and Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring) both won re-election easily in Senate District 14 and House District 14B. Fellow incumbent Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) also won easily in Senate District 18, which includes Meeker County.

Two Republicans were elected to the Minnesota Legislature for the first time. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) won House District 18B, which includes Meeker County, replacing retiring Bob Ness (R-Dassel). And Bud Heidgerken (R-Freeport) won the open seat in House District 13A, which includes the western half of Stearns County and the northern part of Kandiyohi County.

The only state legislator from the DFL party is Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar), who won re-election in Senate District 13. Local voters, though, preferred his opponent by a slight margin.

(Editor's Note: the Press has identified these 12 stories as the top news in the Paynesville area for 2002. For the top accomplishments in sports, see the 2002 sports review.)

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