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“I’m not leaving Minnesota. I’m a fighter,” he said. “Minnesota has given me everything I have, and I’m staying here and I’m going to do everything I can to make Minnesota a better place.”
The seeds of this statewide debate are already being planted around Minnesota, as legislators return home to push their take on the successes and failures of the session.
Democrats share a sense of triumph after increasing aid for education and paying for property tax relief for Minnesota homeowner and renters. They claim to have balanced the budget in a way that sets up the state for a new era of fiscal stability, better able to make new investments and ride out national economic ups and downs.
Republicans say Democrats needlessly socked Minnesotans with $2.1 billion in tax hikes and threw more money at programs without any tough look at how to make them more efficient.
Up in northern Minnesota, the battle already is shaping up.
Freshman Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, eked out the narrowest of wins in a district where voters overwhelmingly went for Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential election. When Radinovich got to St. Paul, he voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a bedrock DFL initiative that prompted a recall effort in his district.
“I don’t think when you get into the Capitol you should be thinking about re-election; you should be thinking about doing the right thing,” said Radinovich, who already is fundraising and meeting with residents in his district. “I think the people of Minnesota will reward people who do the right thing.”
Radinovich’s 2012 opponent, Dale Lueck, said residents up there are furious.
“When you go against that level of sentiment in your district, it’s the same as someone running up Mount Everest without oxygen,” Lueck said. “That looks more like political suicide than anything I have seen.”
Lueck hasn’t decided whether he’ll run again. But after this session, he’s already thinking about it.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB