Few battlegrounds will be as crucial on election day as the environs of St. Cloud and Rochester, boom towns outside the metro area whose political personalities are changing.
German-Catholic central Minnesota once was strong DFL territory. But Stearns County, which encompasses St. Cloud and its western suburbs, went solidly for George Bush in 2000 and 2004. Five of the eight legislators in the St. Cloud area are Republicans.
Rochester used to be reliably Republican. But Olmsted County favored Bush over John Kerry by just 5 percentage points in 2004 and DFLers now control half of the legislative seats in the greater Rochester area. [....snip] StarTribune
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