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Editorial: Magnus shakes things up

The area political scene sure became interesting Tuesday afternoon with District 22A Rep. Doug Magnus' announcement that he'll leave the Minnesota House to run for the District 22 Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Jim Vickerman.

Prior to Vickerman's decision to not seek another term -- he was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in November 1986 -- there had been persistent speculation as to whether the Tracy Democrat would again seek re-election. Next came more intrigue: Not long after Vickerman's retirement announcement, his nephew Kevin -- currently a Murray County commissioner -- declared his intent to run as a Democrat for the seat.

Then, on Tuesday, Magnus answered folks who had been floating various rumors about his political intentions. The Slayton Republican's decision to seek a four-year Senate term, rather than a fifth two-year term in the House, represents a strong opportunity to switch a seat long occupied by a DFLer into the GOP column.

Magnus, it should be noted, has been popular within his House district. After winning election in November 2002, he was returned to St. Paul in 2004 (58 percent of the vote), 2006 (56 percent) and 2008 (also 56 percent). Considering the winning campaigns of District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton -- like Magnus a Republican -- in 2004, 2006 and 2008, it's clear District 22 as a whole has been trending the GOP's way.

The best hope for the DFL this election cycle is probably to field fresh candidates with fresh visions. Time will tell -- and it's still very early -- if Kevin Vickerman or another Democrat will be an attractive alternative to Magnus. The DFLers will also probably need to find new candidates to run for the House. Mike McCarvel was defeated in 2006 and 2008 in District 22A, while Hamilton has won each of his three terms by defeating Richard Peterson.

Of course, Republicans will need to field a new District 22A candidate, too. Clearly, though, Magnus has impacted the region's political arena with his decision.