It took a woman to win it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006

By Adam Hammer, staff writer

Robin Brown&8217;s yellow blazer will be a welcomed addition to the new blue Minnesota House of Representatives.

DFLer Robin Brown, an art teacher at Albert Lea High School, upset Republican Matt Benda for the District 27A House seat. Brown will replace Republican Rep. Dan Dorman who is retiring from the position.

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Minnesota Democrats took over the House with 85 seats compared to the Republicans&8217; 49.

&8220;A big breath, I mean this has been a roller coaster,&8221; Brown said minutes after hearing the news of her victory. &8220;I said at the beginning of the night that, win or lose, we were proud of the race that we ran &8212; positive and talking about the issues.&8221;

Brown learned of her victory at the Democrat election party at the Ramada Inn in Albert Lea. The Republican Party was closely watching the results in a room next door.

Brown supporters cheered, cried and applauded her victory. Sherry Staude said she was proud to be a part of sending a woman to the House.

&8220;I&8217;m all for women&8217;s rights and it took a woman to win it,&8221; Staude said. &8220;She was dedicated from the very beginning.&8221;

As the results came in throughout the evening, it was a tug-of-war for the lead.

Brown lost in Freeborn County with 49.41 percent of the vote, but picked up the victory with 61.71 percent of the Mower County vote. The total votes were Brown 8617 and Benda 8332.

&8220;Perseverance, that&8217;s what I teach my art students,&8221; she said. &8220;Perseverance, stay in there, learn from the job, make a plan and work it.&8221;

Upon hearing of his loss, Benda thanked all of his supporters at the Republican election party and said he had enjoyed the ride.

&8220;You haven&8217;t heard the last from Matt Benda,&8221; he said. &8220;I&8217;ve learned that you&8217;ve got to continue to put yourself out there and don&8217;t be afraid to try to make things better,&8221; he said. &8220;Just because things don&8217;t turn out the way you hope they do, doesn&8217;t mean that you shouldn&8217;t be involved and try to make the community better.&8221;

Dorman, a mentor to Benda, was ultimately disappointed by the outcome.

&8220;He&8217;s better qualified right now; however, the people have spoken and you have to pick yourself up and it hurts, but what do you do,&8221; he said.

Dorman said he had urged Benda to continue with his positive campaign instead of running negative ads in response to advertisements mailed out by the Minnesota DFL party, but he thinks that may have hurt the vote.

&8220;There was pressure from people in St. Paul, they wanted to fight fire with fire and I think the message will be you can&8217;t be positive and win. You need to get down and fight,&8221; he said. &8220;I don&8217;t want that to be the message, I really don&8217;t.&8221;

Brown said when she gets to St. Paul, she will first be looking to tackle education funding. She also has her sights set on health care, roads and bridges and the environment.

&8220;Now all of these things I&8217;ve been talking about, I need to make sure that they happen,&8221; she said.

Senate District 27

Sen. Dan Sparks retained his seat on the Senate with 67.72 percent of the vote over Albert Lea city councilman George Marin.

&8220;I&8217;m very proud and humbled. I&8217;ve been privileged and honored to represent the people for the last four years and I appreciate their support,&8221; Sparks said.

Sparks distributed over 600 signs for the campaign, and he said he will be collecting them today.

&8220;We ran a good clean campaign, worked hard and stayed focused on the issues, and I think that&8217;s what the voters appreciated,&8221; he said. &8220;The people have the opportunity to hire you or fire you and obviously it&8217;s nice to have their support with some overwhelming numbers.&8221;

Marin will now start his third year on his second term as Ward 3 council.

&8220;We&8217;re confident we ran a good race,&8221; Marin said. &8220;We congratulate him and we are at complete peace with the outcome.&8221;