Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Democratic officials help ring in new era

ST. PAUL - A new era began in Minnesota state government Tuesday, with three Democrats joining Republican Gov.

Attorney General Lori Swanson

ST. PAUL - A new era began in Minnesota state government Tuesday, with three Democrats joining Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his lieutenant governor in office.

After four years of Republicans holding all but one statewide office, voters in November elected a Democratic attorney general, state auditor and secretary of state - and barely gave Pawlenty a re-election nod over outgoing Attorney General Mike Hatch.

All stood on stage together Tuesday as they took oaths of office for their four-year terms.

Lori Swanson, Hatch's replacement, used a morning Capitol ceremony to promise to work for all Minnesotans. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie held his own ceremony Tuesday evening, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto plans an event later this month.

Swanson's event came first thing Tuesday, with about 300 people in the Capitol Rotunda.


"My mission is for the attorney general's office to fight for the rights of everyday people, and especially those without a voice," Swanson said during the 45-minute ceremony. "In my attorney general's office, no one will be so powerful they are above the law or so powerless they are beneath its protection."

Hatch and former Attorney General Miles Lord swore Swanson in as the state's 29th attorney general. She is the first woman to hold the office.

Swanson, who defeated Republican Rep. Jeff Johnson, of Plymouth, a Detroit Lakes native, in the November election, said an attorney general should be tough and have resolve "and should never, ever, back down because a cause is hard or complicated or doesn't come easy or is unpopular in some circles or makes some people mad."

In brief remarks to about 300 people in the Capitol rotunda, Hatch announced that he accepted Swanson's offer to work for her. He lost the November governor's race to Pawlenty.

Ritchie upset two-term incumbent Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer in the November election.

On Tuesday, Ritchie said he's pleased and eager to fulfill his duties.

"It's been two years, and I feel like I've been absorbing what Minnesotans think and want and desire," he said. "And now they have a very high expectation that I deliver."

Ritchie will convene the House today, a rite he said he's excited to carry out.


Today's induction of legislators - combined with his inauguration Tuesday - "will kind of give me the whole picture of who my partners are."

Otto defeated first-term auditor Pat Anderson in November.

Following Pawlenty's message of political teamwork Tuesday, Otto said the concept has a familiar ring to it.

"I've always been that way," the Democrat said, noting that when she was a legislator in the House, she won support in a Republican district. "I will continue to function in that manner."

Otto said her first order of business - like many DFLers in St. Paul - will be to get her office set up. After she finishes naming appointees in her office, Otto said she'll explain her vision to them - making the office become more proactive and preventative mode.

She said her goals will be to avoid waste and mistakes that will hopefully mean help for local governmental bodies.

Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who ran with Pawlenty, took her oath for a second term. She spent a decade in the Legislature with Pawlenty before he tapped her four years ago to be his running mate. She also is state transportation commissioner.

Readers can reach Forum Communications reporters Don Davis and Mike Longaecker at (651) 290-0707

What To Read Next
Get Local