Veteran DFL lawmakers prevail in three local legislative races

by Melinda Rogers

In three local races featuring multi-term incumbents, DFLers Mary Jo McGuire, Larry Pogemiller and John Marty edged out Republican challengers in their Minneapolis and St. Paul districts.
After already serving six terms, St. Paul District 54A incumbent Mary Jo McGuire earned the opportunity to serve a seventh term in the Minnesota House of Representatives Tuesday.
McGuire, the Democratic candidate, defeated Republican opponent Julie Ward with 57 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent after 72 percent of the precincts reported.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to represent the district again,” McGuire said. “My campaign and volunteers have worked very hard to get our message out.”
During her tenure as a representative, McGuire has emphasized women’s rights and improvements in the public education system. She said she hopes to build on these issues as well as others during her seventh term in the Minnesota House.
Besides the goal of serving the general public, McGuire said she also hopes to benefit University students.
“I want to continue to help the University through funding requests to the legislature,” she said. “I want to be available to speak with University students about the issues that concern them and make college more affordable for all students.”
Republican candidate Julie Ward was unavailable to comment on her defeat.
Incumbent Sen. Larry Pogemiller solidified his sixth term in the Minnesota State Senate Tuesday, assuring the Democratic party continued control over Senate District 59.
Pogemiller, 49, defeated first-time Senate candidate and University political science student Kristin Meyer.
Pogemiller pulled in 71 percent of the vote late Tuesday, leaving the Republican, Meyer, with about 29 percent in the two-party race.
Pogemiller, whose campaign focused on environmental and educational issues, plans to continue his role as chairman to the Senate’s K-12 education committee, a position he’s held for the past eight years.
In a race considered by some to be a Democratic shoe-in, Sen. John Marty, St. Paul District 54 Democratic incumbent, has been re-elected for a fifth term.
With about a 30 percent advantage over Republican opponent Mark Zasadny, Marty said he was pleased to receive the news of his re-election which resulted in his largest victory.
“It’s a good feeling,” Marty said from his Roseville home surrounded by family and friends. “It’s a good vote of confidence from the public.”
“I’m excited about the next couple of years, but I think we’re ignoring longer term problems and we ought to work to prevent our problems upfront,” he added.
Since his initial election to the Senate in 1987, Marty has advocated environmental protection and education reform. He also authored a bill supporting strong gun control.
Mark Zasadny, the Republican candidate, lightly reacted to his loss.
“I had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot,” Zasadny said, adding that he will run again for the Republican nomination in 2004.
Zasadny’s campaign concentrated on issues ranging from crime and gun control to tax cuts.
Objecting to strong gun control, but supporting additional funds for prison expansion, Zasadny’s mission statement in his campaign was “the number one role of government should be to protect innocent lives.”
Quietly monitoring the race while at home with his wife, Hannah, Zasadny said he was not surprised of Marty’s re-election.
“John Marty didn’t run much of a race,” Zasadny said. “Nobody saw any serious activity, but there’s always a power in incumbency.”