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8 legislative incumbents facing intra-party challenges

Betsy Sundquist//February 22, 2010//

8 legislative incumbents facing intra-party challenges

Betsy Sundquist//February 22, 2010//

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Eight Minnesota legislative incumbents — five DFLers and three Republicans — are facing challenges from members of their own parties this year, not counting six incumbents who have said that they aren’t seeking re-election and have fellow party members lining up to succeed them.

That number also doesn’t include one DFL state senator, Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud, who is considered the front-runner to receive the party’s endorsement to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, and has said that she won’t run again for her Senate seat if she receives that endorsement.

So far, one DFLer and one Republican are vying for Clark’s seat: Bruce Hentges, a DFLer, and John Pederson, a Republican. Both are from St. Cloud.

Five state senators are among those facing intra-party challenges: Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, is being challenged for the endorsement by Gregory Paquin of Bemidji, and Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, will vie against Paul Gazelka of Baxter. (Koering also has a registered DFL challenger: Taylor Stevenson of Baxter.)

In Senate District 49, incumbent Sen. Debbie Johnson, R-Ham Lake, lost the party’s endorsement to Republican challenger Michelle Benson of Ham Lake. Although Johnson initially said she would abide by the endorsement, she said later that she hasn’t decided whether to mount a primary challenge to Benson.

Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, is being challenged for the endorsement by Raymond Dehn of Minneapolis, and Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, has a challenger in Don Arnosti of St. Paul.

On the House side, Tim O’Driscoll, a Republican from Sartell, has registered to run for the seat held by Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids. Severson hopes to receive the GOP’s endorsement to run for secretary of state against DFL incumbent Mark Ritchie.

In House District 31A, Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, has a DFL challenger in Debbie White of Winona. In House District 63A, Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who is running for governor, is being challenged by Charles Miller of Minneapolis. (Thissen has also picked up a GOP challenger: Nathan Atkins of Minneapolis.)

Among the retiring members:

Two Republicans hope to receive the endorsement to run for the seat now held by Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel: Dean Mahlstedt of Cokato and Randal Wilson of Glencoe.

Sen. Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, who represents District 36, announced her retirement this morning, and so far there are three Republicans who hope to succeed her: Theresa Stokes of Farmington, and Bob Erickson and Dave Thompson of Lakeville.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, is a candidate for governor, and has said that she won’t run again for the Legislature. Three DFLers are vying for endorsement for her House seat: Marion Greene, Katie Hatt and Tom Nordyke, all of Minneapolis.

Retiring Rep. Cy Thao, DFL-St. Paul, has four DFLers lined up to take his spot: Jeremiah Ellis, Tony Schmitz, Rena Moran and Jessica Webster, all of St. Paul.

Two more retiring House members have fellow party members waiting in the wings: Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, yet another candidate for governor, and Rep. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove.

Seifert’s seat is being sought by Taylor Gronau of Marshall, and Bigham’s seat has two attracted two hopefuls: DFLer Jen Peterson and Republican John Kriesel, both of Cottage Grove.

Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, who also announced his retirement today, has yet to pick up any potential DFL successors, though two Republicans are seeking the endorsement in that district: Kim Hummel and Mike Garber, both of Jackson.

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