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The Life of Charles H. Backstrom
(1.6 MB; 188 pp.)
From Joe Graba
In 1982, Minnesota
Attorney General Warren Spannus, the DFL party’s chosen candidate for governor,
was challenged in the primary election by Lt. Governor Rudy Perpich. Charles was
doing polling for the Spannus campaign. On election day, early reported results
showed a substantial lead for Spannus but Charles assured the campaign staff
that the news was not as good as it appeared. Based on Charles’s sampling data,
the votes left to come in would be overwhelmingly for Perpich, and surely enough
for him to win.
I was then the chief of staff for Minnesota Senate
Majority Leader Roger Moe, and called the Spannus campaign staff that evening to
find out how things were going. “Looks good, right?” I asked. “No,” the campaign
contact replied. “We’ve got numbers from Charlie Backstrom, and we’re sure
enough now of a loss that we’re closing-up shop here.” Shortly afterward, I was
riding in the elevator at the Capitol with my boss when Moe said “Well, it looks
pretty good for us, doesn’t it!” I said “No, no it doesn’t. The votes left to
come in are all for Perpich, and we’ve lost it. Just wait for it.” Moe was
I let Moe believe I had divined the truth from above.
It was Charles who made me look like a hero, but I never told anyone until now.