Year in Review 2012: Politics and Elections

The biggest stories of the past year.

With 2012 being a presidential election year, it’s no surprise there was no shortage of political news over the past 12 months. What was more unexpected was just how much conflict there was in some races that turned out to be routs. Add in the twists and turns of a long-awaited project, and you have an eventful year.


5th District Race Gets Ugly

Incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison and Republican Chris Fields traded barbs throughout the race for the 5th District seat. But the nastiness hit a new low less than three weeks before Election Day, when the opponents launched personal attacks during a debate on KFAI Radio. The two called each other liars, and Ellison twice called his Fields a "lowlife scumbag."

  • What Happened in KFAI Studio During Keith Ellison-Chris Fields Debate Fracas
  • Fields: 'Keith Ellison Proved He Cannot Deliver'
  • Ellison: 'I Acted Beneath My Personal Standard'
  • Fields Tries to Leverage Debate Outburst into Fundraising
  • REPLAY: Rep. Keith Ellison's Name-Calling Gets Vulgar in Angry Debate
  • AUDIO: Hear the Low Points of Thursday's Fractious Ellison-Fields Debate


Southwest Light Rail Sees Ups and Downs

For the past couple years, the road ahead for the Southwest Light Rail Transit has been uncertain. It faced steeped opposition from leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature who oversaw key transportation committees. In 2012, those leaders helped prevent a Southwest funding request from making any headway. Then the Department of Employment and Economic Development ranked the project tied for last place among the 37 projects that applied for a piece of the $47.5 million available in bonding money. But the governor wound up setting aside $2 million to keep the project moving, and DFL wins in the election bring many more supporters into the Legislature. As 2013 begins, the future is looking a little rosier for Southwest light rail.

  • What Do You Know About the Metro's Light Rail Projects?
  • Does Light Rail Need Its Own Tax?
  • Southwest LRT Typo Underestimates Co-location Costs by $100M
  • VIDEO: Protestors Slam Proposed Southwest LRT Route
  • OPINION: Election Changes Minnesota’s Transit Dialogue
  • DFL Wins Mean Good News for Southwest Light Rail Transit
  • Key Southwest LRT Study Published for Public Review
  • Local Leaders React to DEED’s Rejection of Southwest Light Rail
  • Southwest LRT Decision Doesn’t Alter Hopkins’ Downtown Plans  


Hopkins’ Legislative Makeup Remains Unchanged Despite Redistricting

Despite redistricting and the 2012 Election, Hopkins will not see any change among those who represent it in the Minnesota Legislature. Sen. Ron Latz continues to represent the community in the Senate, while Rep. Steve Simon will represent Hopkins in the House.

  • Minnesota Redistricting: Hopkins Joins Senate District 46
  • DFL Sweeps District 46 Seats  


Proposed Constitutional Amendments Fail

Hopkins voters were strongly opposed to proposed amendments that would have required photo ID at the polls and added a definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman to the state Constitution.

  • (VIDEO) Minnesota Senate Passes Gay Marriage Amendment Bill
  • (POLL) Hopkins Residents Join Fight Over Marriage Amendment
  • Second New Poll Says Marriage Amendment Could Fail
  • MN Marriage Amendment Fails: 'Vote No' Wins
  • MN Marriage Amendment Got Majority Support in Only One Patch City
  • Hopkins' Representative Condemns Voter ID Bill
  • Latz: GOP Voter ID Proposals Target DFL Voters
  • Could Electronic Poll Books Bridge the Voter ID Divide?
  • Committee Rejects Simon’s Request to Loosen Voter ID Language
  • MN Voter ID Amendment Fails: 'Vote No' Wins

2012 Election Brings Little Change to Hennepin County Board

With five of the seven county commissioners up for re-election this fall, the Hennepin County Board could’ve seen a major shake-up from this election. But Hennepin County voters seem to prefer for county government to continue on its current course—choosing steady-as-she-goes incumbents over the fiscally conservative challengers who criticized the County Board for runaway spending. Incumbents Mike Opat, Randy Johnson, Jan Callison and Jeff Johnson all won their respective races. District 2 was the only one that did not choose an incumbent—and that was only because it was a special election that did not have an incumbent in that race.


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