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Democrats hope dreams come true

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Democrats' fingers are crossed today, hoping earlier predictions of a political trifecta come true.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party activists have been optimistic that they could control the governor's office, the state House and state Senate after the election.

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Few argue that the DFL will continue to run the Senate, and even some Republicans predict Democrats will win a House majority.

Democratic Attorney General Mike Hatch led the governor's race by varying margins in polls leading up to the election, but Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty began closing in late last week after a couple political blunders by Hatch and his running mate. Some election observers said the contest appeared to be so close that a winner would not be declared until well into Wednesday morning.

DFL and GOP legislative leaders both were predicting they would control the House. Even a narrow margin gives the controlling party power to appointment committee chairmen and decide House rules, thus controlling the fate of most legislation.

Meanwhile, two Minnesota Democratic congressmen planned to watch national election returns especially close tonight. If Reps. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes and Jim Oberstar of Chisholm win tonight, as expected, and Democrats take over the U.S. House, they would be among the most influential congressmen. Oberstar would take the helm of the Transportation Committee, while Peterson would take over the Agriculture Committee, both important panels for Minnesota.

Questions about those and many more races will be decided by voters who cast ballots between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. today.

In the closing hours of the campaign, candidates' schedules varied.

For instance, Pawlenty Monday night wrapped up a 24-our bus trip that took him into central, west-central and southern Minnesota before he wrapped it up in his home town of South St. Paul.

Hatch's campaign, meanwhile, did not tell reporters where he would campaign Monday, other than an early-evening appearance in Duluth and a later one at a St. Paul union headquarters.

In the Senate race, underdog U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, a Republican, hit seven towns Monday, including his home in Watertown. Democrat Amy Klobuchar, leading by 20 percentage points in the most recent poll, visited north-central and northeastern Minnesota communities before ending with a St. Paul rally.

Don Davis is the Senior Capitol Correspondent for Forum Communications Company, the parent company of this newspaper.

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