Pogemiller, DFL, sweeps District 59 Senate race

by Lee VandenBusch

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, easily retained his state senate seat Tuesday night, defeating opponents Rahn Workcuff and Sandra Burt with 76.04 percent of the vote with 92 percent precincts reporting.

Pogemiller, 55, is now in his 26th year as a state senator for District 59, which includes the University. This will be his eighth term in the senate.

“I’m pleased,” Pogemiller said. “What I think is most impressive is the massive turnout in our community. It appears to be at presidential levels.”

Pogemiller, who is a lifetime resident of Minneapolis, entered the race Tuesday as the clear favorite. He received 75 percent of the vote in the 2002 election.

Pogemiller ran a campaign based heavily on his past experience and accomplishments in the senate. According to his record, Pogemiller has been largely involved in education and community funding.

Since taking office in 1980, Pogemiller has been the chair of five different committees in the senate. He chairs both the Tax and Pensions and Retirement Committees.

A project system analyst by trade, Pogemiller graduated from the University with an economics degree. He

went on to receive a public administration degree from Harvard’s JFK School of Government.

Republican challenger Burt received 18.1 percent of the vote. She is a nurse practitioner and former missionary and has also been an active volunteer in her community.

Burt focused much of her campaign on education reform, specifically support for private school vouchers. She also ran hard on health care in the state.

Burt’s campaign manager, Steve Sumner, said he was very proud of the campaign.

“We ran a real hard-fought campaign, built on the issues,” Sumner said. “Sandy built up a real good campaign staff and got her message out.”

Burt was also very proud of her campaign.

“Absolutely, we worked hard and we just did a great job with what we had to work with,” she said.

For independent candidate Workcuff, this was not his first run. Workcuff received 5.61 percent of the vote. He has previously run for state senate in Districts 60 and 44.

Workcuff ran a campaign focused, as he said, on “bringing some sanity to the system.”

He also believed people of color and people with disabilities need to be better represented in state government.

Workcuff could not be reached for comment.

Pogemiller said in the next session, he hopes to work on education, especially spending at the University.

“We have to get the focus on education,” Pogemiller said. “The last four years have not been good for education.”

Pogemiller added that he hopes to do more about the growing level of crime in the area, but is hopeful about the new session.