Olmsted County Republicans find little to cheer at victory party

November 9, 2018

It was a relatively subdued affair at the Republicans of Olmsted County election night watch party.

Throughout the evening about 50 people, including local House of Representatives candidates, watched large projection screens airing the local and national results at the Apache Hotel.

Shortly before the polls closed, Aaron Miller, chairman of the Republicans of Olmsted County, welcomed those in attendance to what he called an “election victory party.” Miller also spoke of the group’s last-minute hustle to get signs on Election Day as they had all been handed out during the weekend.

“I really think that points to voter enthusiasm,” he said.

While voters across the state cast their last ballots, Miller thanked those Republican candidates in Olmsted County who took the time to run for office.

“If you have never been a candidate, its hard to really understand what goes into being a candidate,” he said. “But I can tell you that it is not just the candidates but it is also their family that are affected.

“On behalf of the party, I would like to say thank you to you and your families, because I know that it is a significant sacrifice and it’s something that is greater than yourself and I appreciate you being willing to step forward and serve.”

Moments after the polls closed, Fox News declared that incumbent Democratic Sen. Tina Smith had defeated Republican state Sen. Karin Housley. The result drew an audible reaction from the crowd. Rochester resident Diana Friemann was heard from across the room expressing her disappointment.

“I am sick about that one,” Friemann said.

In quick succession, the races were called in favor of Democrat Tim Walz for governor and incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a third term.

Miller said he was surprised that the special senate election had been called so early.

“They called it at 8:02 p.m.,” he said. “I would certainly like to see what the aggregate numbers are going to be in that race.”

Speaking later of her disappointment, Friemann said she didn’t agree with Smith, saying she was “behind the DNC” and was for spending and taxing.

“I was so hoping that her opponent would win. I have worked so hard volunteering in the office, doing phone calls, going door-to-door and now that, it’s kind of hard,” Friemann said. “Minnesota is a lot of blue, but we also have a lot of red here in our state.”

Friemann said the Republicans had a good ticket this election and their loss was sad.

“I’m sick about it,” she said.

Around 8:30 p.m. there was at least one cause for celebration in the room as Chuck Bradford learned he was re-elected to his fourth term as mayor of Mantorville.

Decked out in red pants and a blue-and-white star blazer, Frank Bernau, chairman of the Dodge County Republicans, said early in the evening that the results were disappointing.

“The Republican numbers are half of what the Democrats’ are,” he said. “I’m pretty shocked by them (the results).”

By 10 p.m., some sat around laptops, waiting for local results to come in as the projector screens turned back to Fox News. While applause for Minnesota candidates was few and far between for the first two hours of the event, cheers occasionally broke out as races across the nation were called for Republicans.

Republican Kenneth Bush lost his race against DFL state Rep. Duane Sauke to represent District 25B. Bush said he was feeling pretty good.

“I feel that the national tone should be irrelevant to what is happening in Rochester, Minn., so I would hope that voters want to see someone who wants to build bipartisanship,” Bush said.

With 54 percent of the vote at 11 p.m., Republican state Rep. Nels Pierson said he felt “very optimistic” the final numbers would see him retain his seat in House 26B. Pierson said he has a history of establishing relationships with his constituents and running a positive campaign on the accomplishments he has had in the Legislature.

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