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Political community mourns loss of journalist

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ST. PAUL - Minnesota's political community remembered Brad Swenson as a top political reporter.

For former House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, a visit to Bemidji is not the same without Swenson.

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"I always knew when I came to Bemidji for any reason, Brad would be there," said Sviggum, a Kenyon Republican who now is House Republican spokesman.

Sviggum said he called Swenson last month just to talk after he missed the long-time reporter during a post-legislative session Bemidji visit.

"I liked Brad a lot," Sviggum said. "He was very fair. He was very community and rural focused."

For someone who worked so far from the state Capitol, Sviggum said, Swenson was "very connected, very in tune with legislative happenings. He knew what was going on like he was in the Capitol."

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton joined Republican Sviggum in mourning Swenson, who died Sunday at home.

"Brad Swenson was one of Minnesota's great journalists," Dayton said. "He covered Minnesota politics and public affairs with careful insight and shrewd analysis. He served the city of Bemidji and the state of Minnesota with great distinction."

Politicians of all stripes visited Bemidji to talk to Swenson and after hearing of his death, they reacted in social media Monday.

"He was a great guy to work with, always fair and went the extra mile to get the story right," Sandy Connolly, a Democratic-Farmer-Laborite public relations worker, wrote on Facebook. "Sad news."

"He wrote well thought out columns and edits," former state Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, now a U.S. Sen. Al Franken aide, wrote on Twitter.

"So sad; a great guy and a pleasure to work with," tweeted Matt Swenson of the state Commerce Department.

"Sorry to hear about Brad, he was great to talk to, always interested in agriculture angle," added Thom Peterson of the Minnesota Farmers' Union.

The news of Swenson's death took many by surprise, including long-time Republican activist Ben Golnik, who responded after reading a tweet about it: "whoa. RIP Brad"

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