Last Tuesday brought to a close a long and fascinating chapter in the political history of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. A new era now begins.

Amid the din of political punditry and the fan of my overused computer, a friend called to tell me that former State Sen. Doug Johnson died that morning at the age of 80. I once worked on Johnson’s spirited but ultimately Quixotic 1998 campaign for the DFL nomination for governor. That thrilling summer provided my 18-year-old self an unparalleled education in how Iron Range politics worked.

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