Chris Swedzinski's got a second job. So does Gary Dahms. And Joe Schomacker. They didn't take a second job to supplement their incomes because the family needs money, they took them - or in this case, campaigned for them - to be a part of wide-ranging solutions to help Minnesota get out of its financial hole and become a better place to live and work. And, facing a $6.2 billion deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate, we wish them the best.
Swedzinski, Dahms, and Schomacker - a farmer from Ghent, an insurance agent from Redwood Falls, and independent public relations consultant from Luverne, respectively - are now also politicians, each part of a huge election-night Republican surge that put 33 newly-elected GOPers in the House as compared to only three newly-elected Democrats. The transformation from what was a Democratic-controlled Legislature with a Republican governor to a GOP-dominated Legislature with a DFL governor became a reality Tuesday as our new state leaders were sworn in one day after Gov. Mark Dayton took the oath of office.
Because they're all freshmen policymakers, we don't know yet what we're going to get out of this trio during the 2011 session. We listened to them on the campaign trail and in debates during the summer, we know what they stand for. But will they make good politicians? Will they remember the things they told constituents while campaigning, which many cynics believe is where most politicians simply tell the voters what they want to hear?
Will they try to stand out in St. Paul to make their voices heard? Or will they blend in, voting only along party lines?
These questions will be answered during the next few months, and it will be interesting to follow our three new politicians as they learn the ropes during a most difficult time. Minnesotans are counting on all the legislators to work together to move this state forward during the next two years - which, because of redistricting in a couple years, will end up being the life expectancy of some of the 201 members of the Legislature.