It was ten years ago today — Nov. 4, 2008 — that Barack Obama was elected to his first term as President of the United States. Obama took nearly 53 percent of the popular vote nationwide; in Duluth he hauled in more than 68 percent. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidates swept every 2008 contest in Duluth.
Though Al Franken narrowly won a U.S. Senate seat in a statewide race that was decided after eight months of recounting and legal jousting, he crushed opponent Norm Coleman in Duluth, taking 55 percent of the vote to Coleman’s 31 precent.
Perhaps the most significant local contest was Roger Reinert dominating the race for State Representative District 7B. Two years later, Reinert was elected to represent District 7 in the Minnesota Senate. He served for six years in the senate before stepping away from politics in 2016.
The 2008 election in Duluth also featured a referendum question on a century-old Lakeside liquor ban and a three-tier Duluth Schools property-tax levy question. The liquor ban issue didn’t get settled until eight years later. The Duluth schools matter is ongoing — another three-tier levy question is on this year’s ballot.
The liquor issue was so divided the results of the ballot question showed a one-vote difference, with 2,858 Lakeside residents saying alcohol sales should continue to be banned in the neighborhood and 2,857 in favor of repealing the prohibition. In 2016 the Duluth City Council finally repealed the liquor ban. Amity Coffee poured the first Lakeside beer on Oct. 27, 2016.
It was also in 2008 that Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Act passed.
Special bonus video footage: Journalism students at the University of Minnesota Duluth were out and about covering the 2008 election. In the piece below, Abel Gustafson and Jordan Hanson visit local bars, along with Republican and DFL events.
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