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.

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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.