Lives Intersecting Headlines: One voter's discontentby Michael Caputo, Minnesota Public Radio
One of the top stories of 2006 was the wave of voter discontent that Democrats rode in the November elections - giving them control of Congress and the Minnesota Legislature. Polls showed the war in Iraq was a major factor for the backlash against Republican candidates. That was the case for voter Wayne Sandbulte of Hector.
St. Paul, Minn. — Sandbulte is the kind of middle-of-the-road, swing voter that both parties coveted this past election season. But he wasn't always such a centrist.
Sandbulte traced his political path back to his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. He was a Marine who worked on helicopters and occasionally flew a gunner.
"And when I came back President Nixon was president and he was the main guy who got me out of Vietnam... got most of us out of Vietnam," he said. "And so I voted solidly Republican for many years."
As time went on, Sandbulte said he gravitated to the middle. For example, he doesn't like being taxed too much, but also said that the middle class is being squeezed. Sandbulte said he considers himself an independent voter and, for a time, played a role in Minnesota's Independence Party.
But when Sandbulte voted, he would usually split the ticket, even on local and state races.
"I want a guy that is going to work with both sides and come up with what's best for all Minnesotans - not just what's best for your particular special interest that got you elected," he said.
But in 2006, for the first time, he didn't vote for a single Republican candidate. The main reason: Iraq.
"I think it affected every vote I made," he said.
Sandbulte, the ex-Marine, said that Republican leaders were arrogant in the leadership of the war.
"The Pentagon did some very stupid thing during the Vietnam War and they're doing some very stupid things now," said Sandbulte. "They are not listening to their own (military) leadership. They're saying 'do it my way.' I'm very upset about that."
Sandbulte says he may yet come back to the Republican Party. But before he does, he wants to see more of the sort of compromise that the late Republican President Gerald Ford practiced.
"Gerald Ford was much more of a moderate, worked with both parties," he said. "If you are familiar with that era there was this huge divide the anti-war and the liberals on one side and the Republicans and the war machine on the other side. And slowly but surely that did get healed.
"I think we're headed in that direction again."