Gimse: 'It's been a terrific day'
WILLMAR -- Joe Gimse needed a nap by 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, but he was too busy taking congratulatory phone calls to do that. "It's been one phone call after another and lots of e-mails," said Gimse, who on Tuesday pulled off one of the biggest Ele...
WILLMAR -- Joe Gimse needed a nap by 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, but he was too busy taking congratulatory phone calls to do that.
"It's been one phone call after another and lots of e-mails," said Gimse, who on Tuesday pulled off one of the biggest Election Day upsets by defeating longtime local legislator and current Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar.
Gimse beat Johnson by a 553-vote margin for the Senate District 13 seat, which includes all of Kandiyohi and Pope counties and the western portion of Stearns County.
"It's just been great," said Gimse, commenting on the activity the day after the election. "It's been a terrific day."
The message from supporters is that they are "happy to see that I won this election," Gimse said.
One of the best calls he received was from Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, who assured Gimse that he would get a place on the committees he wants to serve on: transportation, transportation finance and agriculture/veterans/ gaming committees.
Gimse said he expects to be appointed to those "three key committees" and will look for additional committee opportunities that will benefit west central Minnesota, including renewable energy.
He said his 18 years of working for Enron gave him extensive knowledge on wind energy that he'd like to use to help the district and state.
"I'm excited to roll up my sleeves and go to work. I'm going to work hard and hopefully do some good things," Gimse said. "I'm optimistic. Just like I was going into this campaign."
Gimse will be going to St. Paul on Friday to meet with the Republican caucus.
"Friday will be a long day," said Gimse, who said he's looking forward to meeting the legislators he doesn't know already and is eager to help the caucus "shake things out and see where we go."
Gimse said he's eager to work with Rep. Bud Heidgerken, R-Freeport, and Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, who represent District 13A and 13B, respectively. Gimse said he's also hoping for a "honeymoon period" as he treads new waters in the legislature.
But with a strong majority in both houses and the likelihood that DFL senators may be upset with Gimse for taking out their majority leader, a honeymoon may not happen.
The Willmar land developer and home builder said he's "humbled and honored" to represent the district in St. Paul and is not nervous about this new chapter in his life.
"I am Joe Gimse. I am who I am," he said.