by Dennis Dalman
On Election Day 2012, central Minnesota lived up to its reputation as one of the strongest conservative areas of the state, electing mostly Republican candidates across the board and voting in favor of two proposed constitutional amendments.
There were very few exceptions to the Republican sweep in the cities, towns and townships in the three-county region of Stearns, Benton and Sherburne. Those three counties, combined, gave Rep. Michele Bachmann enough extra votes (about 4,000) to put her in the winner’s column.
One notable exception to the local Republican dominance was the widespread re-election – even in most conservative districts – of Democrat Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate.
Another exception is most voters in Stearns County, unlike Sherburne and Benton, voted for Jim Graves over Michele Bachmann and for Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin C. Peterson. One surprising upset was the voters’ choice of Democratic challenger Zachary Dorholt over State Rep. King Banaian in District 14A.
Other than that, the majority of voters in central Minnesota favored Mitt Romney for president, the re-election of Rep. Michele Bachmann to a fourth term in the U.S. Congress and the re-election – with few exceptions – of Republicans to the Minnesota Legislature. A majority of voters in the tri-county area also registered “yes” votes for the two constitutional amendment proposals.
Voter turnout in Sherburne and Benton counties was higher than the state average of 76 percent. In Sherburne, for instance, 82 percent of eligible voters made it to the polls. The total number of voters in the three counties combined was about 154,000. In Stearns County, voter turn-out was 73 percent. Statewide, close to 2.9 million people voted, which is considered a very heavy turnout.
Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District also showed its red colors as a conservative stronghold, voting Republican in race after race. The 6th District encompasses most of the tri-county area at its northwestern end. It also contains most of the metro suburbs to the north and east of Minneapolis-St. Paul on its southeast end. Throughout the 6th District, a majority of voters in most cities, towns and townships voted much like those in the tri-county area. They cast their votes overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. Candidate Mitt Romney, for instance, garnered 205,653 votes compared with 151,235 for President Barack Obama. There were eight other candidates for U.S. President on the ballot, and together they received about 10,000 of all votes cast.
Throughout history, including the 20th Century and so far this century, the Sixth District and the tri-county central Minnesota area have always been dominated by Republicans in voters’ election choices. The total population of the district is 760,000, 95.6 percent white, with 64 percent of them living in urban areas and 36 percent in rural areas. Besides the greater St. Cloud area, the district includes the Twin Cities suburb cities of Anoka, Andover, Blaine and Woodbury. It includes all or part of the following counties: Anoka, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright.
Even though the two proposed constitutional amendments failed statewide, most voters in central Minnesota voters opted for them.