ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It was just 10 hours after John Kriesel had learned he won Minnesota House Seat 57A; he stood in front of a barrage of cameras and reporters in room 125 of the State Capitol.
"Well, compromise is what keeps me from having to sleep on the couch every night," the newly elected Republican from Cottage Grove said when asked about the state's budget. And that was the beginning of his political career.
"Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, he makes us a better body," House Minority leader Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove remarked.
"I'm banged up, I'm sore, and I'm tired. It's been a long campaign," he said a few hours later, finally sitting in his living room. "Just where my life is now compared to where it was 4 years ago, you know, I can't hardly believe it," Kriesel said.
4 years ago, Staff Sgt. Kriesel was on routine patrol in Fallujah, Iraq. "We drove over a 200-pound improvised explosive device and it killed my two best friends and I lost both of my legs in the blast," he recalled.
John Kriesel woke up in a hospital bed in Washington D.C. 8 days later. It was then he realized his two friends did not survive the blast. He vowed to live his life in their honor; he was determined to walk again and return to Minnesota. He never forgot the conversations he had with his friends while serving in Fallujah; they often talked about politics.
"I think they would be proud, we talked a lot over there about stuff like this," he said.
Kriesel campaigned hard in Cottage Grove, South St. Paul, and the surrounding communities. He just about wore out the Segway he used to get door to door. The day after the election, he was waiting on a doctor to fit him for a new socket for his leg; he wore that out too, while on the campaign trail.
Bruised, battered, and still running on adrenaline, John Kriesel left his Cottage Grove home at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, for a book signing in St. Paul. He was working on 3 hours sleep and ready to sign 2nd addition copies of his book, that hit stores in July.
A former soldier and soon to be lawmaker; still making strides to honor the men he served with. "I won't take this lightly, it means a great deal to me," Kriesel said about his new position at the State Capitol.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)