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Editorial: The 2010 election key is the economy

It was a rather quiet election day Tuesday for West Central Minnesota with only some school referendums and a city council race or two on the ballots.

Today though is the official start of the 2010 election season, so get ready for an interesting political year.

There is a lot at stake in 2010 -- for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

The Democrat party, currently led by President Barack Obama, holds a majority in Congress and the Minnesota Legislature. Nationally, Obama is maintaining strong approval ratings, but the party faces the typical challenges of a party in majority during a presidential election off year.

The Democrats

also are facing a growing unease among independents plus a growing dissatisfaction among Republicans. There is concern on health care reform as well as the future of the Afghanistan war. And the various federal bailouts are frustrating concern to many voters. Frankly, the Obama honeymoon is over for the Democrats.

Regardless of the Republican Party's success Tuesday in various races, the party faces challenges in 2010. The party is not in the majority in either Congress or the Minnesota Legislature. The party may be still suffering from a Bush backlash to some degree.

The biggest challenge for Republican may be from within. The party is struggling without any national leader emerging yet. Natural leaders, like Gov. Tim Pawlenty, RMinn. and Sen. Olympia Snow, R-Maine, are sniping at each other, questioning who is conservative enough to be a Republican. In state politics, Pawlenty appears to be more focused on his presidential campaign than Minnesota.

Both parties will be ready to do battle in 2010, both in Minnesota and nationally. One should not count either party out at this point.

Overall, the future of the economy -- now stabilizing, but not recovered -- will likely be a primary factor in the 2010 elections.