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Moving Day At The Capitol Brings Mixed Emotions

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Just three weeks after Election Day, its moving day. Democrats are taking over spacious state Capitol offices, and taking on the new majority.

The new Democratic Majority Leader Tom Bakk is unpacking in his spacious new Capitol digs.

“There’s a mallard duck in here that I shot in about 1980,” Bakk said.

He says voters blamed House and Senate Republicans for two years of gridlock, and a record state shutdown.

“People are tired of the gridlock, they’re tired of the bickering. I think you are starting to see that play out in elections, not just in Minnesota but across the country,” Bakk said.

In politics, the victors enjoy the spoils of much better office space. But moving in means someone else is moving out.

Just two years after winning the House and Senate, Republicans are the ones with high anxiety. Up to 25 Republican Senate staffers will lose their jobs; even more in the House, replaced by Democrats.

And GOP leaders, like Senate Spokesman Steve Sviggum, say it’s hard for some not to take it personally.

“There’s probably still disappointment. There’s probably still anger, from one standpoint. And then the other side of course is on cloud nine,” Sviggum said.

Republicans are moving from the Capitol building to a nearby state office building; a short, but symbolic march to the political wilderness.

Bakk says Democrats are gratified, but cautious, and aware that voters sent them – and Republicans – a message.

“Republicans voted for Mitt Romney and then 126,000 of them did not vote for a Republican for the state senate. I think there is some kind of a message in that,” Bakk said.

But Democrats shouldn’t get too comfortable in their new offices. There’s a plan in the works to renovate the Capitol building, and the entire legislature and the governor will be required to vacate for several years.

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