By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
— The 2012 election is over in Minnesota. Just before noon Friday, 24 days after Election Day, the last vote was counted again in Scott County and former state Sen. Kevin Dahle became Senator-elect Kevin Dahle.
The three-day recount, which begin in Rice County Wednesday and continued in Le Sueur County Thursday, shrunk Dahle’s 78-vote winning margin following the Election Day count to a 72-vote victory over Republican Mike Dudley of New Prague.
Dahle, DFL-Northfield, ended up with the exact same total — 20,628 — as in the initial count. Dudley gained six votes in the recount to finish with 20,550.
Even before the recount began, Dudley said he knew the chances were slim that a 78-vote margin would be reversed in a recount, based on past history in Minnesota where recounts have shown that the machine tallies done on Election Day are highly accurate.
Dudley also said the prospect of serving in the minority in the Legislature, after two years of Republican majorities, dimmed his enthusiasm for the job.
“I ran to try to make a difference as part of a majority,” said Dudley, a retired FBI agent. “... I think statewide, voters said we really don’t want Republicans doing anything in this state.”
Dahle’s return to the Capitol comes two years after he narrowly lost his first re-election bid to Republican Al DeKruif of rural Elysian. Legislative redistricting following the 2010 census moved DeKruif’s home into Senate District 22 — the same district as fellow-Republican Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont and a district that contained almost none of his current constituency.
DeKruif decided not to move a few miles north into District 20 for a rematch against Dahle, a Northfield school teacher who won a 2008 special election to replace a Republican senator appointed to the district court bench.
The recount finalizes the 39-28 DFL majority in the Senate, which reverses the 37-29 Republican majority going into the election. Combined with the new 73-61 Democratic hold on the House, which the Republicans controlled 72-62 last session, and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in the governor’s office, Democrats are now in complete control of state government.