Republicans will keep control of the state Senate seat vacated by Dick Day. Mike Parry, a former Waseca City Council member, won Tuesday’s special election with 43 percent of the vote.
Democrat Jason Engbrecht, a physics professor at St. Olaf University, ran second with 37 percent of the vote. Independence Party nominee Roy Srp was also a major factor in the Senate District 26 contest, drawing support from 20 percent of voters.
Parry survived criticism of his inflammatory postings on Twitter, including a reference to President Obama as a “Power Hungry Black Man.” The controversial tweets were subsequently scrubbed from his account.
The Senate seat had been held by Day for two decades. He resigned earlier this month to head up a lobbying effort aimed at expanding gambling at the state’s horseracing tracks.
The district, which includes Faribault and Owatonna, tilts Republican, although Democrats now hold both House seats in the area. Parry’s victory breaks a DFL winning streak in state Senate special elections that had stretched to four contests.
The state Republican party issued a statement lauding Parry’s victory:
Senator-Elect Mike Parry’s victory tonight is the latest indication that 2010 will be a great year for Minnesota Republicans as nearly two-thirds of the voters in Senate District 26 rejected the tax and spend policies of the Democrats in St. Paul. Following impressive Republican victories in deep blue Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Mike’s victory shows Republicans have all the momentum this year. While his Democrat opponent promised more spending, more government and higher taxes, Mike’s clear message of lower taxes, job creation and economic opportunity resonated with the voters of Rice, Steele and Waseca counties.
The DFL also issued a statement from party chair Brian Melendez:
In a district with so many Republican voters, Jason Engbrecht certainly had the deck stacked against him. Steele County hasn’t elected a Democratic representative practically in the history of partisan elections, so it was an uphill climb from the start. But with hard work, good ideas and by talking directly to the voters in Senate District 26, Jason Engbrecht ran a campaign to be proud of and has a bright future in politics.
Next week voters will turn out once again – this time around the state – for their local precinct caucuses. With lobbyist Dick Day’s seat officially in the hands of his chosen successor, we are refocusing our efforts on putting a DFL Governor back in the statehouse. We have an impressive and diverse field of candidates running for office around the state, all campaigning to address the real problems that Minnesota families are facing, and that is the kind of leadership Minnesotans will look for when they go to the polls once again in November.