DFL officials join Pawlenty in ceremony

ST. PAUL -- A new era began in Minnesota state government Tuesday, with three Democrats joining Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his lieutenant governor in office.

ST. PAUL -- A new era began in Minnesota state government Tuesday, with three Democrats joining Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his lieutenant governor in office.

After four years of Republicans holding all but one statewide office, voters in November opted for Democratic attorney general, state auditor and secretary of state -- and barely gave Pawlenty a re-election nod over outgoing Attorney General Mike Hatch.

All stood on stage together Tuesday as they took oaths of office for their four-year terms.

Lori Swanson, Hatch's replacement, used a morning Capitol ceremony to promise to work for all Minnesotans. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie held his own ceremony Tuesday evening and State Auditor Rebecca Otto plans her own event later this month.

Swanson's event came first thing Tuesday, with about 300 people in the Capitol Rotunda.


"My mission is for the attorney general's office to fight for the rights of everyday people, and especially those without a voice," Swanson said during the 45-minute ceremony. "In my attorney general's office, no one will be so powerful they are above the law or so powerless they are beneath its protection."

Hatch and former Attorney General Miles Lord swore Swanson in as the state's 29th attorney general. She is the first woman to hold the office.

Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson urged Swanson to "do you job well," but said the court and Swanson's office "will bump up against each other."

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz told Swanson she needs to be a good leader. Quoting from a card she once received, she said: "The fish rots from the head down."

Swanson, who defeated Republican Rep. Jeff Johnson of Plymouth, a Detroit Lakes native, in the November election, said an attorney general should be tough and have resolve "and should never, ever, back down because a cause is hard, or complicated, or doesn't come easy, or is unpopular in some circles, or makes some people mad."

In brief remarks to about 300 people in the Capitol rotunda, Hatch announced he accepted Swanson's offer work for her. He lost the November governor's race to Pawlenty.

Hatch's right arm was in a sling after he broke four ribs and his collarbone in a Christmas Eve spill on the ice.

"Lori Swanson will stand up for all of us and she will make a better state for each of us," Hatch said about his new boss.


Swanson has worked for Hatch both in private law practice and in the attorney general's office.

Ritchie upset two-term incumbent Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer in the November election.

On Tuesday, Ritchie said he's pleased and eager to fulfill his duties.

"It's been two years and I feel like I've been absorbing what Minnesotans think and want and desire," he said. "And now they have a very high expectation that I deliver."

Ritchie will convene the House today, a rite he said he's excited to carry out.

Today's induction of legislators -- combined with his inauguration Tuesday -- "will kind of give me the whole picture of who my partners are."

"I feel like Minnesotans have given me a big agenda and I'm anxious to get going on it," Ritchie said. "So here we go."

Otto defeated first-term auditor Pat Anderson in November.


Following Pawlenty's message of political teamwork Tuesday, Otto said the concept rings familiar for her.

"I've always been that way," the Democrat said, noting that when she was a legislator in the House, she won support in a Republican district. "I will continue to function in that matter."

Otto said her first order of business -- like many DFLers in St. Paul -- will be to get her office set up. After she finishes naming appointees in her office, Otto said she'll explain to them her vision -- making the office become more proactive and preventative mode.

She said her goals will be to avoid waste and mistakes that will hopefully mean help for local governmental bodies

"It takes a little bit off time to get there," she said, "but I already have a lot of good information I've collected as I traveled the state. We can do this."

Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who ran with Pawlenty, took her oath for a second term. She spent a decade in the Legislature with Pawlenty before he tapped her four years ago to be his running mate. She also is state transportation commissioner.

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