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Pro-Profile Senator Loses Party Endorsement

May 21, 2002

For the second time this spring, a high visibility Republican Senator was passed over for Party endorsement last Thursday when southern Minnesota's new Senate District 30 handed newcomer Lynn Zaffke the Republican endorsement. Third term Senator Sheila Kiscaden of Rochester vowed to fight on in the September Republican primary election. Last March, Senator Martha Robertson from Golden Valley was also denied endorsement, in large part for her leadership role in creating and supporting the Profile of Learning and School-to-Work in Minnesota.

Kiscaden has opposed repeal of the Profile of Learning, one of the issues that played a key role in her endorsement battle. Last April Kiscaden joined the 33 to 33 failed Senate effort to repeal the Profile. Her critics have described this 2002 vote, however, as little more than a cynical last-minute election-year ploy to protect herself in her newly redistricted senate district boundaries. Zaffke is from Stewartville.

The first ballot brought Zaffke within one vote of the required 60 percent. The second ballot put him over the top with votes to spare.

Most remarkable was the quiet determination of delegates to replace the incumbent Senator in spite of Republican establishment support. High level Republicans circled the wagons around Kiscaden. Many Senators who have voted consistently over four years to repeal the Profile of Learning, nonetheless staunchly supported her re-election bid. Many of them, however, have indicated that they will now be supporting the endorsed candidate.

The primary battle in this Senate District and in several others will be key battlegrounds this year on the road to making significant changes in the Minnesota Senate. Every year, the House has voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Profile of Learning, the foundation of the School-to-Work system in Minnesota. Every year, that effort fails in the Senate. Which candidates are on the November ballot will make the decisive difference in the 2003 legislative session. Will the Senate vote to repeal the Profile in 2003?

The powerful interests that put this system in place and hold it together against the will of parents and taxpayers have a huge stake in the outcome of certain primary elections. The DFL majority in the Senate is one such interest -- Senators Moe, Pogemiller and Pappas, among others. It is almost certain that Republicans will win the general elections in the Robertson and Kiscaden districts, but having Senators Robertson and Kiscaden re-elected would lend tremendous support to the DFL efforts to keep the Profile in place. The DFL will do whatever they can to ensure that those incumbent Republican Senators win the Primary.

Every year, the Governor stands ready to veto any Profile repeal that might squeak through. This year is the race for Governor. The DFL candidate for Governor, Roger Moe, has been the leader in the Senate. He is a strong supporter of continuing the Profile of Learning and implementing a central planning workforce and economic system. Gov. Ventura is fully behind the restructured workforce and education system. Republicans have yet to endorse their candidate. Who they put forward will be decisive.

This 2002 election year has every House and Senate seat up for election in newly drawn district boundaries. Truly this election year, election results will determine the future of our state.

The involvement of education activists in their precinct caucuses and their willingness to be elected as delegates has put education front and center of the agenda of legislative and statewide races across this state. Delegates with a keen understanding of the role of education and workforce restructuring on our freedom are endorsing candidates, wherever they can, who can be counted on. This is truly a historic and watershed year.

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