District 21: Sen. John Howe
In 2011, Republican state Sen. John Howe tried to make a deal with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on sales tax reform. In 2012, Howe tried to find bipartisan ground on the photo ID voting requirement that his fellow Republicans were hellbent on putting in the state Constitution.
Howe's efforts were right for Minnesota. They were also courageous. Going public with his tax reform ideas unleashed a barrage of local criticism orchestrated by his own party's state leaders, he said afterward.
Howe is battle-scarred, but, to his credit, he isn't chastened. He vows to keep pursuing bipartisan approaches to taxes, transportation, energy and the environment. He says he has learned valuable lessons about how to make those efforts effective.
That's why we give our nod to the 49-year-old former Red Wing mayor over 32-year-old Matt Schmit -- even though Schmit is an impressive newcomer. Bright, articulate and steeped in state policy as a Senate committee assistant and Humphrey School policy fellow, Schmit ought to be an elected official someday soon. But Minnesota needs Howe in the Senate next session.
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District 36: Sen. Benjamin Kruse
Even state Sen. Benjamin Kruse's detractors call him likable and hard-working. A close look at the Republican's record reveals more to praise.
Kruse's work across the partisan aisle and with the DFL governor transformed a school trust lands bill from veto bait into signed law. The 34-year-old first-termer won broad support for a bill to shield charitable organizations from clawbacks of old contributions from fraudsters such as Tom Petters.
In a second term, he says he'll seek a middle way on tax policy changes, early childhood education and bus rapid transit. He says he has a positive working relationship with Dayton on which to build.
For those reasons, Kruse narrowly gets a nod over a formidable DFL challenger, Anoka-Hennepin school board vice chair John Hoffman.
We find more points of agreement with 47-year-old Hoffman, who is well-qualified by his career as a business owner and a marketing director for a nonprofit organization that serves adults with disabilities. Hoffman's school board record suggests he too would be a consensus-seeker and a fiscal watchdog with an eye toward keeping homeowner property taxes down.
But compromise-minded Republicans are too scarce at the Capitol. Kruse is one worth keeping.
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To read more of the Editorial Board's endorsements, go here.