Rosalynn Carter speaks in West St. Paul

1978: First Lady Rosalynn Carter Speaks in West St. Paul

Thanks to Amore Coffee for their support.

On Oct. 7, 1978, First Lady Rosalynn Carter spoke at Brady High School in West St. Paul. Carter came to support Jerry Sikorski, a candidate for the First Congressional District, Senator Wendell Anderson, and Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich. A crowd of 500 people attended the Saturday event, with an additional 100 to 200 outside.

Carter’s brief remarks included praise for the DFL candidates and a thank you to the audience for “helping to elect Jimmy president. I think he is doing a great job.”

As Carter left, the crowd ignored instructions to stay seated and mobbed the roped off area for a chance to meet the first lady.

The feelings of the crowd, which was orderly but enthusiastic, might be summed up by a girl, about 12 years old, who ran breathlessly across the sidewalk to her father. With shining eyes, she said, “She shook my hand!”

Oct. 12, 1978 issue of the Dakota County Tribune

The Minnesota Massacre

In his introduction, Governor Perpich called Carter a great first lady, adding “She gives us the momentum to put all of us across the top.”

But that didn’t turn out to be the case as the DFL suffered a major defeat in the 1978 election. It became known as the “Minnesota Massacre.” It started with Vice President Walter Mondale’s election in 1976, which opened up his Senate seat. Governor Wendell Anderson resigned so Lieutenant Governor Perpich could appoint Anderson to the Senate. That didn’t go over well with voters. Anderson lost to Rudy Boschwitz for the Senate and Perpich lost to Al Quie for governor (though Perpich would go on to be elected governor in 1982 and 1986, becoming the only Minnesota governor to serve non-consecutive terms). Sikorski also lost his race, but he went on to win in 1982 and served five terms in Congress.

West St. Paul Tidbits

Brady High School, which played host to the first lady, closed in 1991. St. Croix Lutheran Academy purchased the building and began classes in 1992.

Your generous support enables us to dig into local West St. Paul history.

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