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From the Lefthand Corner: Was Tuesday's vote an aberration or a trend?

By the time you read this, our 2018 primary election will be a little bit of history. If early and mail-in ballots are any indication, more Minnesotans will have cast primary votes than we have had for some time.

Unfortunately for us DFLers, for some time Republican voters have tended to be more disciplined and habitual primary voters. They tend to be more regular voters in every election, while Democrats are more prone to skip primaries and non-presidential elections.

However, this year the Republicans are stuck with their internal battle between their duly endorsed candidate for governor, and a guy who came roaring back from Washington with outside money flowing out of his ears.

We less disciplined DFLers went into our less disciplined party convention with a number of hotly contested state races and came out with more races than when we started. The three-day convention and week following gave us a surprise every day.

Our incumbent attorney general decided to abandon her office and run for governor. An uncontested U.S. senator endorsement became contested. An incumbent congressman decided to run for attorney general against the guy who got endorsed with no vote, and others again vying for the job after the attorney general dropped out.

Not only did she switch from attorney general back to governor, but she picked up as a running mate our own 8th District congressman, who at the beginning of the year retired for family reasons but then decided to make a surprising comeback running for lieutenant governor.

Then in our 8th District congressional race, we went into our convention with a hotly contested race of five candidates for endorsement and came out after a two-day, 10-ballot marathon with no endorsement. After the convention, the leading candidate dropped out and we still ended up with a five-candidate race to the primary.

Overall, the convention debacle was a strong blow against our ever-lessening number of us strong partisans who still believe in our two-party system as a bastion of democracy. We are left to our belief that the caucus-convention system gives us more honest and better government in Minnesota than other states.

We can still believe that it tends to allow the less wealthy to participate and become elected, and encourages ones elected to govern in a bipartisan manner.

Caucus-convention selection discourages extremists and gives us more moderate candidates who are prepared to represent all Minnesotans. It gave us a Republican Gov. Elmer Andersen who advocated raising taxes when called for; and DFLers Walter Mondale and John Blatnik, who taught us that good politics are the art of the possible, which necessitates compromise.

We ended up this year with a long, hot summer, in more ways than one. Early voting was running at a 3:1 ratio over 2016, indicating a lot of interest in all the crazy races, and an uncharacteristically heavy primary vote.

So, was Tuesday's election a flash in the pan, an aberration; or was it the start of a trend toward increasing voter interest? Was it increasing willingness to carry that interest all the way to the ballot box? Will it result in increasing interest in becoming candidates of the future?

Here's hoping so, for saving what little is left of our democracy and for better government in Minnesota.

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