Gingrich protest a sign of Edina’s changing politics

A colleague of mine noted with interest that the hecklers who interrupted GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich last night were high school students from Edina.

“Why do you support discrimination against gays and lesbians all the time?” shouted Gabe Aderhold at Gingrich’s Bloomington event.

Aderhold and his accomplice Isaac Rothberg, both 17, live in Edina. At first glance, the tony suburb seems an unlikely hotbed of liberal activism — but upon closer examination, it’s not as unlikely as it looks. Edina’s politics are changing.

With a median household income of $79,535 (well above the statewide average of $57,243,) Edina used to be a GOP stronghold. Republicans have represented the city in the state Senate since party designation was re-instituted at the Legislature in the mid-70s.

The GOP also held Edina’s two state House seats during most of that time, save for a brief, two-year period when DFLer Paul Rosenthal snagged one of them.

Rosenthal’s 2008 win is a sign of the GOP’s loosening grip on Edina. It can partly be attributed to the ample coattails of President Barack Obama. He won the city handily — 55 percent to 43 percent — against Republican John McCain. That improved on the showing of the Democratic Party’s 2004 nominee. John Kerry also carried the city, but by less than 3 percentage points.

These days, Edina swings easily back and forth between the GOP and the DFL — even splitting its vote some years.

Thumbnail image for Edina elex results.jpg

This year, Obama shares the ballot with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the city’s three GOP-held legislative seats and a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It will be interesting to see how the vote breaks down.

  • Bob Vandenakker

    Don’t forget that Sen. Michel is damaged goods after losing his leadership position and lying to the people of Minnesota about when he first learned about Sen. Koch’s affair. Rep. Mazorol won by 900 votes in 2010 after groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars sending 9 or 10 fliers a week, and he’s tied to Sen. Michel, having been his boss at Securian for years. Of course, you also have to remember that Rep. Rosenthal won after the GOP abandoned Rep. Petersen for voting to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto on the transportation bill. Lots of other things going on in the Edina/Bloomington Area.

  • Curtis Gilbert

    Good point about the extenuating circumstances surrounding Rosenthal’s victory, Bob. There was obviously a lot more to it than just coattails, but one has to think that was one of the factors.

  • Karl Knudson

    This is truly an interesting and awkward way to wright a headline an portray an event inaccuracy. All candidates face hecklers like this on a regular basis. Giving them this kind of attention only seeks to embolden their bad behavior. I read the whole story, that makes some interesting points about local political trends, and then watched the video. Then I asked myself how did they get there from here? One heckler, thoroughly booed by the assembled crowd and removed by security, becomes the subject of the headline and gets named in the story? Are you intentionally encouraging this behavior? Would you do the same report if it was someone heckling President Obama?

  • Curtis Gilbert

    Hi Karl– What spurred the blog entry wasn’t the protest itself, but rather the comment from my colleague that you wouldn’t think of Edina as a hotbed of liberal protest.

    I had been following some of the political trends in the Twin Cities suburbs, and thought it would be a good opportunity to write a short piece examining them. It wasn’t meant as any kind of endorsement or comment on the protester’s tactics.

  • Steven Rothberg

    My son was one of the two hecklers. Not my style but I’m incredibly proud of him.

    The gay rights movement is to our era what the racial equality movement was 50 years ago. The arguments against gay rights today are remarkably — and shamefully — similar to the arguments against racial equality.

    Today, most states prohibit interracial marriages and provide no education, employment, housing, transportation, hospitality, etc. protections for gays who are discriminated against and the arguments against those protections are largely justified by biblical references and simple bigotry. In the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, most states prohibited interracial marriages and provided no education, employment, housing, transportation, hospitality, etc. protections for blacks who were discriminated against and the arguments against those protections were largely justified by biblical references and simple bigotry.