Quie’s passing reminds us of remarkable 1978 elections

Quie’s passing reminds us of remarkable 1978 elections

Quie's passing reminds us of remarkable 1978 elections

After 20 years serving Minnesota in Congress, Republican Al Quie decided to run for governor in 1978 against considerable odds in a state often dominated by Democrats. What happened next quickly became known as the “Minnesota Massacre.”

Quie defeated incumbent Gov. Rudy Perpich to win the governor’s office; Dave Durenberger defeated Bob Short for one U.S. Senate seat and Rudy Boschwitz beat incumbent U.S. Senator Wendell Anderson for the other Senate seat.

The problem for Democrats was that Anderson had appointed himself to the U.S. Senate when Walter Mondale was elected vice president. That elevated Perpich from lieutenant governor to governor. Neither man had been elected to the office they held. Meanwhile, Sen. Hubert Humphrey died in office and his wife was appointed to replace him. She chose not to run, which meant that was an open seat.

On election night in 1978, KSTP-TV archive video shows Quie, Boschwitz and Durenberger all on stage at the Registry Hotel in Bloomington, but all of them were so surprised by the election results they were reluctant to declare victory.

In 2008, on the 30th anniversary of that election, Quie told 5 Eyewitness News about his reaction when it sunk in he had won. “It was great…to realize, we made it,” he said in an interview on At Issue with Tom Hauser. “And all three of us made it. I had a sense beginning two weeks before the election it was going to happen, but polls the day before said I wouldn’t win.”

“It was a good night,” former Senator Rudy Boschwitz told 5 Eyewitness News on Monday. “All three victories…that certainly was a surprise. Al and I weren’t supposed to be elected and I think Dave had a clear shot.” Durenberger passed away in January at age 88.

At 92, Boschwitz is the last of those three Republicans from the Minnesota Massacre still living. He called Quie a “great human being” who continued public policy work and ministry for several decades after leaving office. He says Quie was especially proud of prison ministry. “He helped them one at a time and he indeed achieved a great deal one person at a time,” Boschwitz said.

The non-profit Prison Fellowship organization in Washington, DC, issued a statement today about Quie’s passing. “As a founding member of Prison Fellowship’s Board of Directors, Governor Quie played instrumental role in shaping the organization’s approach to justice that restores, prisoner rehabilitation, and the transformative power of hope.”

In his 2008 “At Issue” interview alluded to his desire to those who can’t always help themselves, saying, “You know what you should always be looking for? How we can improve the life of people without power.”

RELATED: Former Gov. Al Quie remembered as a man of integrity who reached across the aisle

A celebration of Quie’s life will be held at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis on September 9 at 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.