Bulletin editorial: A changed race after Kriesel exitRep. John Kriesel’s decision last week to not seek a second term in the Minnesota House dramatically changes the dynamics of that race.
It’s time to hit the reset button on local legislative races and one contest in particular.
Rep. John Kriesel’s decision last week to not seek a second term in the Minnesota House dramatically changes the dynamics of that race.
If you missed Kriesel’s announcement, in summary: After one two-year term, the Cottage Grove Republican said he is stepping aside to focus on his family. His service in the National Guard, his subsequent 2006 war injury and recovery, and then his work in the Legislature understandably was a strain for his family. (For more on his decision, see our story on page 1A.) He won’t be on the ballot this fall, but didn’t rule out a future political run.
Kriesel made the right personal decision, but it no doubt left campaign-minded Republicans wincing and Democrats giddy.
In Kriesel Republicans believed they had a strong, popular candidate seeking re-election. While Kriesel was criticized for not developing a strong connection with the community and for a short list of meaty legislative accomplishments, Republicans saw – and benefitted from – his ability to effectively campaign and raise large sums of money for his race. That helped him to victory in 2010 – even as foes decried the campaign dollars he drew from out-of-state GOP political heavyweights.
All of that is history. What lies ahead is an open legislative seat and a scramble – by Republicans to find someone to hold the seat in their control and by Democrats to pick a candidate who will return the seat to their side.
To be sure, it will make for an interesting campaign season.
Setting aside politics and elections for a moment, Kriesel’s decision highlights a growing problem. The time commitment and demands of serving in the Legislature are increasingly difficult on lawmakers’ personal lives and family obligations. Sure, they chose to serve, but citizens ought to be encouraged to get involved, and yet Kriesel is the latest in a discouraging string of retiring lawmakers with young children who cite the job’s tough toll on home life.
Kriesel – like others who pursue elected office or volunteerism – deserves thanks for his public service, regardless of political differences.
And now the race to replace him is on. A number of area residents on each side of the political aisle have either announced their candidacy or are exploring a bid. That is a good sign, and suggests the parties will vet and select strong candidates from which local voters will make a pick this fall.