(Note: Even though it usually meant staying up all night, or perhaps getting only an hour or two of sleep, I always enjoyed doing election coverage because the Union-Eagle came out on Wednesday morning and we were as up to date as the daily papers that came out that day, even beating them in some races because we didn't print until 9 a.m. on Wednesday. I once sat with Minnesota House candidate Jerry Peterson at his home all night as returns came in and then wrote a column just a couple hours before press time. I was researching something else this Friday morning and came across our front page from Nov. 9, 2000. We had six front-page stories that covered the school board race, county commissioner race, city mayor and council races, two Minnesota House races and a Minnesota Senate race. And inside was a story that listed vote totals from the city of Princeton where, for the first time in 28 years, a Republican got more votes than a Democrat in the race for president. It was close, George Bush edging Al Gore 783-781. The Democratic candidates for president had won in Princeton for six straight elections, usually with comfortable margins. The last time a Republican candidate for president had gotten more votes than the Democratic candidate in Princeton came in 1972 when Richard Nixon outpolled George McGovern 707-543. I wrote my editorial page column the morning of the election with the headline you see above. As I read it today it reminded me that negative campaigning, so prevalent today, was also around in the year 2000 and isn't the new thing that some think. The column reprinted below is about that negativity.)
It's a drizzly Tuesday morning but, as far as elections go, it's probably good that it's 45 degrees and not 25. Otherwise that drizzle would be snow and the turnout in Minnesota and surrounding townships wouldn't be as high as it's going to be.
By 9 a.m. in Princeton about 250 people had already voted. In a city where the record is 1,761 from 1980 (there was a hotly-contested school district referendum that year) it looks as though we may be headed for a large turnout, if not a record.
At 7:30 a.m. in Baldwin Township, which now has more residents than the city of Princeton, the line wound outside the township hall into a nearby shed because of a light rain. There were three lines in that shed and it appears the turnout in Baldwin will be high. The township is growing by leaps and bounds and there are substantially more voters each election.
For some reason Minnesotans seem to take voting seriously. Sixty-five percent of us turned out in 1996 and that led the nation. Some are suggesting it will be higher this time.
The turnout in Princeton four years ago was 69 percent of registered voters as 255 registered that day and there were 59 absentee ballots. This year there are more absentee ballots than in 1996 and the total in Sherburne County is at least double of what it usually is.
(A person that some might call a cynic suggested this morning that on the heels of the Minnesota Vikings' collapse in Green Bay last night it's a good thing Minnesota coach Denny Green is hired and not elected. Absentee ballots or no absentee ballots, he wouldn't stand a chance today.)
A county commissioner race in Princeton Township and the city of Princeton will probably help lead to a large turnout here. And the mayoral race and school board contests are also likely to bump up the numbers considerably.
What all that means for us at the newspaper is a long, long night, with returns perhaps coming in slower than usual because of more ballots to be counted. But it's usually a fun night because our front page, when the paper hits the streets about noon Wednesday, will have up-to-date information.
Other than that, I'm tired of the way campaigning has gone the past few years. It used to be that the dirty politics came in the bigger races. Now, before the primary election, candidates of the same parties even slam each other around before the winners in those primaries start slamming their Republican or Democratic opponents around. And issues really do get lost in the rush to bad mouth an opponent.
There was a disturbing development in a local legislative race this year, ads being run that contained a disclaimer that the candidate did not approve the ad and was not responsible for it. That tactic, hiding behind a faceless organization, took on a new meaning Sunday when flyers were distributed in Princeton that were "an independent expenditure not approved by the candidate nor is the candidate responsible for it."
I guess what that means is that the Senate Majority Caucus (that would be the DFL), which took credit for the flyer, wouldn't back off if the candidate had asked the caucus to do so. Kinda makes one wonder, doesn't it?
The flyer even contained a quote from a very respected former Republican legislator, charging that a candidate had one of the poorest voting records of anyone in the Legislature on a particular issue. But, of course, no proof was offered.
An acquaintance mentioned yesterday that in most of the ads he read or heard, the candidate promised to "fight" for something. You kind of wish they could say they would "do" something instead of leaving themselves an out by saying they will only "fight" for something.
A couple years ago a friend told me he was going to vote for the candidates opposite the ones who ran negative ads. A couple weeks later he told he he was changing his mind because there was no one left to vote for.
We should all sign an agreement that in 2002 we will vote only for the candidates that talk about issues instead of spending lots of time criticizing their opponents. In other words, tell us what they plan to do, not how bad the opponent has been. Wouldn't that be refreshing?
Yeah, and the sun is going to come up in the west.
Here and there . . .
What is it about Minnesotans when it comes to SAT exams, as well as voting and census response? Minnesota has led the nation the last few presidential elections as far as the percentage of voters voting. It's gotten to the point where it's expected. It wouldn't be a surprise if it happens again in a couple weeks. And now we find out that Minnesota led the nation in the number of households responding to the census, rather than doing it through a census taker. Three-quarters of Minnesota households did that in 2020. (It's important to be counted because the state is in danger of losing a congressional seat, the number possibly falling from eight to seven.) Both of those things point to Minnesotans being responsible. Word also came this week that Minnesota led the nation, again, in average score on the ACT college entrance exam that high school seniors take. Minnesota students outperformed the national average and in the 17 states where at least 90% take the test, Minnesota was the best. That's impressive . . . I was shouting at my television in the third quarter last Sunday night, pleading with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to kick an extra point instead of going for a two-point conversion with nearly 19 minutes left in the game to try to tie the game at 21-21. He didn't hear me, made a horrible decision and it cost the Vikings a win. The two-point try failed. Had the extra point been kicked the Vikings would have had a six-point lead in the final two minutes of the game and a chip-shot field goal would have given them a nine-point lead, a two-score lead too large for Seattle to overcome. It amazes me that coaches at that level make a decision like that. And it also amazed me that none of the radio or television announcers brought that up. I understand if you make the argument that the Vikings should have kicked the field goal for an eight-point lead in the the final two minutes, thus making sure the Vikings, at worst, would have a tie and have a chance to win in overtime. But the whole ordeal could have been avoided by kicking that extra point with so much time left in the game. It simply wasn't critical to tie the game at that point . . . There was a very direct question put to the four candidates for Princeton City Council during a forum last week at Trinity Crossing. They were asked if they thought the Public Utilities Commission should be abolished, a question that will be on the ballot on Nov. 3. Victoria Hallin and Nicholas Taylor answered that they didn't think it should be, while Eldon Johnson and Jeff Reynolds, though they had some comments about the situation, did not give a Yes or No answer . . . Many people in the Princeton area, and surrounding counties, have used the Northstar commuter train since 2009 that runs from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis, with stops at Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley, and then back to those cities. Ridership was high when the Minnesota Twins were playing at Target Field, except in this pandemic year. But the pandemic has reduced ridership by 95 percent and weekly trips have been reduced from 72 to 20. Ridership in May was an unbelievable 1,158, compared to nearly 57,000 in January before the pandemic hit. Critics of the service point to the subsidy used to run the line and now those subsidies have skyrocketed because of decreased ridership. The project originally was supposed to extend to St. Cloud and there has been a push to do that. But that's up in the air because ridership has dipped so much this year. And now that so many people are working from home, it could signal the end of the line if the working-from-home trend continues . . .Wonder of wonders, the Minnesota Legislature passed a $1.9 billion bonding bill on Thursday after months of delay and five special sessions, the previous four producing absolutely nothing, There is $700 million in the bill for roads and bridges, money that will be well spent, and there are other good uses covered by the bill. Then there are things like $20.5 million for a business park in nearby Becker, $12.5 million for an outdoor concert venue in north Minneapolis, $13.5 million for Duluth to fix its sea wall and make improvements at Canal Park, and $750,000 for a riverfront trail in Winona. Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL, St. Paul) said the bill will touch every Minnesotan — that's a stretch as far as I'm concerned . . . I was surprised that the judge who is handling the prosecution of four former Minneapolis officers in the killing of George Floyd allowed the release of a video that shows a 2019 arrest of Floyd by Minneapolis police. Even if it's not admitted in the March 2021 trial, the jurors likely will have seen it. And prior arrests shouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Floyd was needlessly killed that day last May . . . Ah, Minnesota. Twenty-four hours ago it was windy but there was a sun-splashed football field as Princeton beat St. Cloud Cathedra in the second week of an abbreviated season.l. I just looked out the window and it's snowing — yes, snowing on Oct. 16. It'll melt, likely within the hour, but I suppose people in such warmer states as Arkansas, California and Florida will wonder why we live here. Here's the answer: No out-of-control wildfires, no hurricanes and no earthquakes.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
Oct. 21, 1965 — Princeton placed third in the District 16 cross-country meet as the Tigers" Pete Taylor placed first . . . Princeton lost 26-14 to Milaca as fullback Ross Johnson ran for a touchdown and halfback Tom Enger passed to end Steve Cartwright for a touchdown.
Oct. 21 1970 — Don Cordes ran for 180 yards but Princeton lost 54-28 at Milaca, Milaca winning for the first time in five years against Princeton . . . The cross-country team placed third in District 16 and advanced to the Region Four meet. Kurt Homstad placed fourth, Kevin Gerth sixth.
Oct. 22, 1975 — Former PHS coach Ron Stolski was to be the featured speaker at the Downtown Quarterbacks Club banquet following the PHS football season. Princeton finished 1-8. (Teams played nine games then before the era of playoffs began.)
Oct. 23 1980 — Doug Burns was the Region 7A cross-country champion at Cloquet with a time of 16:00 . . . The football team lost 3-0 to Foley on a field goal with 28 seconds remaining and finished 3-6.
Oct. 24, 1985 — Princeton beat Milaca 41-6 and then beat Cambridge 31-16 in a playoff game after Cambridge led 16-9 late in the third quarter. Chris Grigsby ran for 159 yards against Cambridge and quarterback Dan Voce threw for more than 100 yards in both games. Princeton became the first Rum River Conference team to beat Cambridge twice in one season.
Oct. 25, 1990 — The girls swim team won 8 of 12 events but lost 97-88 at home against Cambridge. Anne Oliver had four first places . . . Princeton lost 45-20 to Columbia Heights in a playoff game.
Oct. 26, 1995 — Princeton, the defending section champion in football, missed the playoffs by losing a flip of a coin after five tie-breaking criteria left the Tigers tied with Milaca and Pine City. Princeton finished 1-7, five of the losses coming by only 16 points.
Oct. 19, 2000 — Jenny Cartwright (29-0) won the Section 7AA singles title in tennis with a win at Daytona over an Elk River player. Genna Carlson and Cally Anderson also qualified for state as a doubles team with a "true second" finish . . .Freshman Tom Foust made all-conference in cross-country by placing 13th in the RRC meet . . . The PHS football team overcame trichadecaphobia - the fear of Friday the 13th - with a 20-0 win over Mora, a team that managed to run only 11 plays the second half. Paul Gibbs ran for 184 yards and the team averaged 6.4 yards a play while gaining 384 yards.
Oct. 27, 2005 — Don Koskey of Princeton had a hole in one on No. 8 at Princeton Golf Club . . . Tessa Gronli, as she did in 2004, lost in quarterfinals singles at the section tennis tournament in Hibbing after advancing with two wins.
Oct. 28, 2010 — Alex Osowski of Princeton recorded a double eagle and hole in one on the same shot at a 345-yard hole on the course in Elk River . . . Former PHS quarterback Phillip Klaphake was having a banner season as a freshman starter at St. Cloud State, leading the Huskies to a 7-1 season start with seven straight wins while throwing for 17 touchdowns and running for 8.
Oct. 22, 2015 — The girls tennis team (24-3) earned a repeat trip to the state tournament with a 4-3 win over Duluth East in Section 7AA, the deciding point coming on a win by freshman Kelsey Dorr at No. 2 singles in a match that lasted 3 hours and 25 minutes. Brianna Dorr and sister Kelsey also qualified for state as a doubles team for the second straight year . . . The PHS football team (5-5) earned a spot in the section title game with a 46-14 win over No. 2 seed Hibbing. The team beat Duluth Denfeld 69-12 in the quarterfinals. Tim Bialka had 238 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Hibbing win and Jake Carlson scored five touchdowns in the Denfeld game.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)