Yesterday was a special election primary for District 3A in Northeastern Minnesota. My candidate came in second and I have a whole range of emotions. (More)

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The overwhelming feeling right now is that it sure sucks to come in second. This is nothing like winning the silver medal in athletics. There is no standing on the second podium. I have bits and pieces of anger aimed in some specific directions too. I also have the memories of joy and camaraderie from working with a great team of volunteers.

The district is the size of Maryland or Rhode Island depending on which newspaper you are reading. It contains the 1.1 million acres of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where no one lives but where over 250,000 people visit each year. It has a strong DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor) tradition largely based on an old history of iron ore mining and good union jobs. Mining has been boom and bust and generally in decline.

The major issue separating my candidate and the other three Democrats in the primary was copper sulfide mining. The old retired miners and their families want more mining period. The outfitters who make a living off all those visitors and the people who understand the risks of copper sulfide mining want to protect the pristine waters.

I have been phoning and canvassing for years, mostly in the twin cities. I have been called more names and had the door slammed in my face more times in the last six weeks than in all my previous volunteering. I have come to think of the Democratic legislators up here and most of the press in the local papers as the mining mafia. Mining Truth Minnesota tells a different story.

The winner of yesterday’s primary got 3083 votes and my candidate got 2637. I am not sure if there are enough absentee ballots to close that gap. I doubt it.

A total of 7053 votes were cast. Minnesota does have same day registration but at 8am Tuesday morning the Secretary of State listed 24,455 registered voters. That is a turnout of 28.84%. I am really disgusted with all those people who did not vote. We called lots of them. It is hard to pull lists of SD or LD on VoteBuilder and have any clue if the voter is pro all mining or pro clean water. Still, I am pissed at the 17,402 people who couldn’t be bothered to vote. What? Why? Whoever said “we get the government we deserve” might have been right. Attribution is unclear but Mark Twain is not mentioned.

I can’t say enough about the campaign, the candidate and all the volunteers. What a great collaborative group with more emails a day than I have gotten for years. Impassioned and factually accurate letters to the editor were everywhere. It takes nine hours to drive the district from one end to the other and people had volunteers and the candidate using their spare rooms.

Still, it sucks to lose. It really sucks that people don’t care enough to even vote. Last night our candidate addressed about 150 people all set to celebrate. He said he really respected the winner and that he was a true progressive Democrat with whom he only disagreed with on one thing and that was copper sulfide mining. He basically said without saying it that we should all support the winner. Classy guy, my guy.