Special election for Falcon Heights Senate seat today

Bailey Hall residents can vote at the Falcon Heights city hall building.

by James Nord

Republican candidate Greg Copeland is taking another crack at winning the traditionally DFL-held Senate District 66 seat, which includes part of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs St. Paul campus, in a special election Tuesday.
Copeland is facing DFL favorite Mary Jo McGuire. She began campaigning for the seat after former Sen. Ellen Anderson âÄìâÄì who beat Copeland by more than 50 percent of the vote last November âÄìâÄì was appointed chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission in March.
McGuire served part of the district in the state House from 1988 to 2002 but bowed out after redistricting would have forced her to run against Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul.
âÄúIâÄôm invigorated to be on the campaign trail again, and IâÄôve always enjoyed the public contact, so itâÄôs great to talk to people about the issues that they care about,âÄù McGuire said.
Both candidates are campaigning in part on issues related to higher education and the University.
Copeland said he supports a cap on tuition and tax credits for students who remain in Minnesota after graduation.
McGuire was less specific about any policy she would support, but she did serve on a House higher education committee.
In her time as a representative, McGuire focused on early childhood education and public safety.
Since leaving the Legislature, McGuire has taught at St. Catherine University and also works as state director of a nonprofit organization that educates communities on law, government and citizensâÄô rights.
McGuire beat current Rep. John Lesch, who represents the district with Hausman, in a special primary election held March 29.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said although McGuire initially appeared to be the underdog in the primary, she used the support of lawmakers from the district to help win the election.
While McGuire jumped back into campaigning after nine years out of the Legislature, Copeland is wrapping up his second campaign in the last five months.
âÄúWeâÄôve ramped up our effort here,âÄù he said. âÄúWhen youâÄôre the only race on the ballot you get a lot of attention.âÄù
Copeland, who ran unopposed, received all of the 155 votes cast in the Republican primary.
Copeland said that after the Republican legislative takeover in November, voters in the district will be eager to join the majority. McGuire hopes the traditionally DFL district will remain blue.
To McGuire, itâÄôs all about turnout.
âÄúWe are cautiously optimistic,âÄù she said. âÄúWe just know itâÄôs going to depend on who all turns out. If it were a regular election weâÄôd be really confident.âÄù
The district, which has been without a senator since Anderson left, will have to wait until the election is certified, which could happen as late as next week.
Students living in Bailey Hall who are interested in voting can do so at Falcon Heights City Hall at 2077 W. Larpenteur Ave.