Since we didn't quite get the snowmageddon that was predicted, I found an extra 10 minutes and came up with this. Check back when the real endorsement is issued to see how close I got.
The Minnesota Legislature lost a future lion when State Senator Branden Petersen announced last year he would resign his seat before the end of his term. Petersen’s tale was all too familiar to long time legislative watchers – he cited financial burdens in his decision. This page has long advocated for a raise for our legislators, who work at an increasingly full time gig with very part time pay.
Petersen was one of the few independent voices in the Republican Party, willing to stand up to the extreme wing of the party on social issues. He was the only Republican in the Minnesota Senate to vote in favor of gay marriage, and one can’t help but wonder if his penchant for strong individualism contributed to his need to seek an early exit.
Petersen will leave shoes that will be difficult to fill. Fortunately, a former legislator with an all-too-rare track record of seeking true bipartisan compromise has stepped up to fill those shoes. Former Representative Jim Abeler of Anoka is seeking a return to the legislature, but this time to the greater chamber instead of the people’s chamber.
This setting would befit Abeler nicely. Republicans in Minnesota are in desperate need of an elder statesman who can guide their party through the seas of turmoil that are all-too-common in today’s divided legislature, and Abeler can play this role aptly from his seat in the upper chamber of Cass Gilbert’s masterpiece.
Republican activists narrowly endorsed fellow activist and bombastic blogger Andy Aplikowski for this seat, which shows that he is in touch with a certain wing of the party. But while Aplikoswki has shown progress since his days of bomb throwing, he would benefit from greater civic engagement beyond partisan politics to show that he is truly a statesman in waiting.
By returning Abeler to the legislature to replace Petersen, the voters of District 35 will get a competent and even handed bipartisan coalition builder. One may even say, a lion.