…and relaxes marijuana laws in historic election
After a close race, the United States watched on Tuesday as President Barack Obama was reelected to a second term with 303 electoral votes. The battleground states proved to be key to Obama’s victory as the President carried almost all of the states, winning Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin. As of this past Wednesday, votes were still being counted in Florida where Obama held a small lead. Election officials predicted that the final results of Florida votes might not be known before the weekend. Obama lost North Carolina and Indiana, which were both states that he had carried in 2008.
In his election night speech Obama addressed the determination and patriotism it takes to volunteer for a campaign or to vote in an election. “That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today,” President Obama said.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minn. also won reelection in a landslide victory against Republican Kurt Bills. Klobuchar won 65.2 percent of the votes cast and will be entering her second term as U.S. Senator. Klobuchar was a favorite to win reelection throughout the entire campaign due to her advantages in both name recognition and campaign funding.
In U.S. House District 1 Tim Walz beat Republican Allen Quist with 57.6 percent of the votes cast.
The nationally covered race between Incumbent Representative Michele Bachmann and Democratic challenger Jim Graves turned out to be a close one. Bachmann came out ahead with 50.6 percent of the votes cast. According to opensecrets.org, this race was the most expensive House race nationwide. Over $20 million was spent, and Bachmann outspent Graves by more than $17 million.
The only Minnesota incumbent not to win reelection was Representative Chip Cravaack who was beat by Rick Nolan in U.S. House District 8. Nolan won 54.5 percent of the votes cast.
Democrats gained control of both the Minnesota Senate and the Minnesota House. Thirty-nine seats in the Minnesota Senate are now held by the DFL and 28 seats are now held by the GOP. In the Minnesota House, 73 seats are now held by the DFL and 61 seats are held by the GOP.
Both Minnesota Constitutional amendments were defeated. The Marriage Amendment was defeated with 52.4 percent of votes cast in opposition and the Voter ID Amendment was defeated with 53.7 percent. Minnesota became the first state to reject a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage at the ballot box.
Richard Carlbom, the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, explained the significance of the amendment rejection to a cheering crowd on Tuesday at St. Paul’s River Centre. “Tonight, Minnesota proved love is bigger than government,” Carlbom said.
In Colorado, Amendment 64 passed, which legalized marijuana. This amendment allows adults over 21 years of age to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but public use will be banned. This amendment will also allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in a private, secure area. Washington passed Initiative 502, which will establish a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and stores. Adults will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana. This initiative also established a blood test limit for driving under the influence of marijuana. The federal government, U.S. Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration still consider marijuana an illegal drug, and it is yet unclear as to how this measure will be enforced.