Counting down: 12 for 2012

Published 8:54 am Sunday, January 1, 2012

Will it be four more years for Barack Obama, or will one of the GOP contenders emerge from the Iowa caucus to unseat the president? - Herald file photo

1. The race to November

As most people already know, 2012 is set to be a big year for politics with the upcoming presidential election.

Depending on who surfaces as the Republican presidential nominee, President Barack Obama could face tough opposition with many Americans longing for government reform and a more stable economy. Republican caucuses begin in Iowa on Jan. 3, which will likely set the tone among Republicans for the spring primary season.

Although the bid for president has been the focus of the 2012 election so far, many local races will likely heat up as election season progresses.

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Four Austin City Council members’ terms will expire at the end of the the year, paving the way for potential new faces on the council. Council member-at-large Janet Anderson and members Brian McAlister, Steve King and Marian Clennon will be up for re-election or will finish their time on the council. Mayor Tom Stiehm’s term also ends in 2012; because of a change in the city charter in 2010, whoever is elected Austin’s next mayor will serve a four-year term as opposed to the two-year terms served in the past.

In the County, Commissioners Ray Tucker and Tim Gabrielson will be up for reelection.

State Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, will be up for re-election in 2012 as well. Poppe said part of the motive behind holding a shorter-than-usual legislative session in 2012 is to give lawmakers more time to campaign in their freshly re-drawn districts.

One race that could prove interesting will be Congressman Tim Walz’s bid for re-election in Minnesota’s First District. Walz is being challenged by state Sen. Mike Parry, a Republican from Waseca.

Faced by opposition in previous elections, Walz has managed to hold his support in Austin, a historically DFL area. But because Parry is from the surrounding area, Walz could face troubles in towns where he has previously seen success.