DFLers pick up two seats in Minnesota Houseby Martiga Lohn, Associated Press
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - With Democrats now controlling the Minnesota House by the strongest majority in 16 years, the leader of minority Republicans says he's not sure he wants the job anymore.
Minority Leader Marty Seifert says he will decide whether to run for the post again after talking with his family over the weekend.
Seifert has led House Republicans for the past two years, and says he's disappointed his candidates didn't pick up seats.
Democrats had a net gain of two seats, increasing their majority to 87 seats. The GOP will have 47 seats.
The DFL and GOP picked off a few of each other's incumbents and each captured open seats being vacated by the opposing party.
By early Wednesday, Republicans had locked up 47 seats, two more than they needed to block a veto-proof DFL margin. Democrats netted two seats, increasing their majority to 87.
The last race called was one along Interstate 35 between Pine City and Cloquet. DFL Rep. Tim Faust edged former Rep. Judy Soderstrom, a Republican who lost to Faust in 2006 after beating him in 2004.
The DFL gained six seats, two courtesy of the Republican "Override Six" who retired after they went against their party to push through a transportation spending package with Democrats.
Democrat Paul Rosenthal won Rep. Neil Peterson's Bloomington seat and Democrat Jerry Newton will succeed Rep. Kathy Tingelstad in Coon Rapids.
DFLers also beat GOP Reps. Sondra Erickson in Princeton and Lynn Wardlow in Eagan while grabbing open Republican seats in Rosemount and Owatonna.
Republicans added four seats, upsetting DFL Reps. Shelley Madore in Apple Valley, Ken Tschumper in the state's southeastern corner and Sandy Wollschlager in Cannon Falls and snaring a previously blue open seat in Blaine.
Republican Keith Downey prevailed over 18-year veteran Rep. Ron Erhardt in a three-way race in Edina. Erhardt, who helped lead the charge on overriding Pawlenty, ran as an independent after the GOP denied him its endorsement.
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the election results validated the Democrats' focus on the economy, transportation and health care during two years in power. The House came under their control after the 2006 election.
"It's not 90, but it's still a strengthening of this majority," said Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis. "That means that the voters want us to be working together bipartisanly."
Republican Leader Marty Seifert said he was disappointed to lose seats but glad to block a supersized DFL majority. The GOP's ability to block veto overrides forces legislative Democrats to compromise with Pawlenty.
"It would have been the left hand negotiating with the far left hand for the next two years," said Seifert, R-Marshall. "They're going to have to negotiate with the middle instead of to the far left."
Senate Democrats padded their veto-proof majority in special elections on Tuesday, picking up a previously Republican seat in the Princeton area. They also held onto a Richfield district.
Except for the two contests to replace retiring senators, the Senate isn't up for election until 2010. Neither is Pawlenty.
He now faces two more years of working with bulked-up DFL majorities in the Legislature, where Job One will be addressing an anticipated $1 billion-plus deficit. Lawmakers must also set a state budget in the upcoming session.
Pawlenty welcomed the Democrats' failure to attain veto-proof status in the House.
"The fact we keep the veto will be good for Minnesota," he said. "It forces some moderation."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)