GOP knocks off 'Woodbury Three'
Woodbury's three Democratic state legislators were swept away in the GOP landslide Tuesday, replaced by Republicans who tapped into voter concerns about the economy and campaigned on restrained government.
Republican challengers defeated Sen. Kathy Saltzman and Reps. Marsha Swails and Julie Bunn, sending Senate District 56 back to its pre-2007 GOP legislative control. The upsets helped Republicans to regain control of the Minnesota House and to take the Senate majority that was long-held by Democrats.
In the Senate race, the closest of the three, Republican Ted Lillie of Lake Elmo finished with 51.5 percent to Saltzman's 48.4 percent, according to unofficial poll results from the district's 28 precincts. Lillie had 19,850 votes to Saltzman's 18,668.
In the House 56B race, Republican Andrea Kieffer beat Swails 53.1 percent to 46.8 percent. Kieffer, like Lillie a first-time candidate, had 10,778 votes to 9,494 for Swails. House 56B includes most of Woodbury and Landfall.
Lohmer beat Bunn 49.6 percent to 44.7 percent with all 15 precincts reporting, according to the unofficial state results. Independent candidate Jim Martin had 5.5 percent of the vote. House 56A includes part of Woodbury, Lake Elmo and St. Croix Valley communities.
Lohmer said Republicans' message of limited government appealed to voters this year.
"I think that people are living the experience of big government and high taxes, and it's not working for them," said Lohmer, who lost to Bunn in 2008. "The reality is people are hurting and they want to see change in government."
There was a similarly shocking change in legislative representation four years ago.
Dubbed the "Woodbury Three," Saltzman, Swails and Bunn all were first elected in 2006, when Democrats took over control of the Minnesota House and padded their Senate majority. Bunn and Swails were re-elected in 2008. Saltzman had a four-year term.
Swails acknowledged the vote results early this morning.
"Thank you for your unwavering belief in me," she wrote on Twitter. "The past four years were filled with such joy as I served in the Minnesota House. To the future!"