County voters favor incumbentsDouglas County voters didn’t vote for a lot of change Tuesday. They wanted to keep a Republican president in office – John McCain – and they favored the incumbent for every federal and state race they voted in.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Douglas County voters didn’t vote for a lot of change Tuesday.
They wanted to keep a Republican president in office – John McCain – and they favored the incumbent for every federal and state race they voted in.
They also gave the nod to two incumbent Douglas County commissioners up for re-election – Jerry Johnson and Bev Bales.
Alexandria voters also re-elected Mayor Dan Ness and Ward 5 incumbent council member, Elroy Frank.
One exception was the Alexandria City Council Ward 3 race where challenger Owen Miller prevailed over long-time incumbent Harvey Weisel.
A look at the numbers shows that Douglas County was more conservative than the rest of Minnesota, continuing its long-standing reputation as a Republican stronghold.
Statewide, for instance, voters handed Democrat Barack Obama 54 percent of the vote while McCain captured 44 percent.
In Douglas County, the percentages were flip-flopped. McCain came out on top with 54 percent to Obama’s 44 percent.
Neither result surprised either Adrian Ledermann, Douglas County DFL chairman, or his Republican counterpart, Dan Haglin.
Both men said they expected McCain to win Douglas County and Obama to take the state.
While he would have liked to see more local support for his candidate, Ledermann said DFLers are very pleased with the results in Minnesota and nationwide.
“In terms of uniting the country, [Obama] offered us best hope, overall,” Ledermann said. “His approach to international relationships, everything, to me, is so hopeful. That’s the key for me.”
Haglin said he is disappointed McCain didn’t win the White House, but he admired how gracious the GOP nominee was in defeat.
“I appreciated Senator McCain’s concession speech,” Haglin said. “It was very, very honorable.”
McCain carried 30 of the county’s 38 precincts. Locally, Obama’s main base of support was in the city of Alexandria, where he prevailed in Ward 2 (precinct 2), Ward 3 (precinct 1), Ward 4 and Ward 5.
Obama also eked out wins in the cities of Millerville, Miltona and Osakis, as well as Urness Township.
Otherwise, it was all McCain.
He did especially well in the large townships – Alexandria Township, getting 1,571 votes to Obama’s 1,172; and LaGrand Township where he prevailed 1,611 to 1,155.
McCain also garnered big support in Alexandria Ward 1 (precinct 2) where he won by a two-to-one ratio, 215 to 107.
While he has concerns about a single political party controlling Congress and the White House, Haglin said he appreciates the historical significance of Obama’s victory.
“It breaks some barriers that we’ve been flirting with for a long time [as a country],” he said. “What was nice about this [election] is that either way history was going to be made, in that we weren’t dealing with a history-making situation on just one side, but both sides would have had a history-making situation.”
Statewide, the Norm Coleman-Al Franken race was extremely tight, triggering a recount. Out of more than 2.8 million votes, both received 42 percent of the vote – Coleman with a 477-vote edge. In Douglas County, it wasn’t even close. Coleman, the Republican incumbent, clobbered Franken by 15 points, 48 percent to 33 percent.
A third candidate in the Senate race, the Independence Party’s Dean Barkley, received 18 percent of the vote here – 3 percent better than his statewide total.
Collin Peterson, the popular DFL incumbent in U.S. House District 7, breezed to his 11th victory, picking up 68 percent of the vote in Douglas County and 72 percent statewide over Republican challenger Glen Menze.
The Constitutional Amendment to increase the sales tax for outdoor and arts funding gained support from 52 percent of Douglas County voters – the same percentage of “yes” votes statewide.
Douglas County mirrored the results elsewhere in its state representative races.
DFLer Mary Ellen Otremba was re-elected in District 11A with 52 percent of the vote in both Douglas County and the rest of the district. She defeated Republican challenger, Dave Kircher.
District 11B Republican incumbent Torrey Westrom had an easier time of it. He picked up 65 percent of the vote districtwide and 64 percent in Douglas County. DFL challenger Bruce Campbell of Alexandria received 31 percent of the vote in the county and 30 percent districtwide.
“We are pleased that Torrey Westrom was re-elected,” Haglin said. “And we’re very proud of the race Dave Kircher ran, and how close he came.”
• • •
Echo Press Reporter Mike Enright contributed to this story.