District 49A: Ron Erhardt
Former state Rep. Ron Erhardt has been on Edina ballots in every general election but one (2010) for 22 years. But there's a change thhis time. For the first time, the DFL label is behind the longtime moderate Republican's name.
Erhardt may have changed parties -- an understandable move, after the GOP dumped him in favor of conservative Rep. Keith Downey in 2008. But Erhardt remains the same outspoken voice for personal freedom, fiscal prudence and stewardship of Minnesota assets. He's stubborn, not as much for his own sake as for Minnesota's.
That's a stubbornness that District 49A voters should reward. Erhardt's nine terms of seniority, his impressive record as a bipartisan dealmaker, his financial acumen acquired as a professional financial planner, and the fact that he is the most youthful 83-year-old we know are added factors in his favor.
Erhardt's Republican opponent in this open seat is Bill Glahn, 45, an energy consultant who served as a deputy commissioner and director of energy security in GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty's second term. He extols the virtues of market forces and local control in achieving state goals.
Glahn says he would have voted to sustain Pawlenty's veto of Erhardt's signal bipartisan achievement, the long-overdue 2008 transportation funding bill. Though that's just one issue, it nicely distills their differing ideas about state governance. Voters should return Erhardt to the House.
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District 51B: Laurie Halverson
GOP state Rep. Doug Wardlow and DFL challenger Laurie Halverson both have a Republican legislative pedigree. Wardlow's father was Eagan Rep. Lynn Wardlow; Halverson's grandfather Howard Nelson and uncle Pete Nelson both served in the House, representing the Lindstrom area, her hometown.
A familial bent toward public service may be the only thing these two contenders have in common.
Wardlow, a 34-year-old attorney, advocates for a substantially smaller government than Republicans typically did as recently as his father's day. He's a signer of the Taxpayers League's "taxpayer protection pledge," forswearing any tax increase for any reason. One way he would keep spending in check would be to transfer health and social safety net responsibilities from state government to churches and community organizations.
By comparison, Halverson, 43, represents the migration of some of yesteryear's moderate Republicans into the DFL. Now a stay-at-home mother, she's a former civic engagement director for Minnesota's Blue Cross Blue Shield. She's also chair of Eagan's advisory parks and recreation commission. Those experiences have attuned her to her community and have opened her thinking to more problem-solving options than the doctrinaire Wardlow is apt to consider. We think Eagan voters would like the representation Halverson would give them.
To read more of the editorial board's endorsements, go here.