Filing closed Tuesday for the special election to replace DFL Rep. Tony Sertich in House District 5B, and seven people – including one Independence Party and one Republican candidate – have thrown their name in to replace him.
As reported last Friday, Republican Paul Jacobson and DFLers Shelley Robinson and Carly Melin were the first to file to run for the seat, which covers Hibbing, Chisholm, Floodwood and Meadowlands. Since then, four other candidates have put their names down, including nearly 10-year Floodwood Mayor Jeff Kletscher, local country singer and DJ Raymond Lee Pierce and former representative John Spanish on the DFL side, and Cynthia Kafut-Hagen for the Independence Party.
Kletscher has been involved in Floodwood city government for more than 18 years, and now works as a real estate broker after a career as a schoolteacher. Pierce, a singer and union manufacturing worker, challenged Sertich in his first run in 2000, then under the Independence Party banner. He garnered 15.8 percent of the vote. Spanish served in the House in the 1960s and 1970s and ran against Sertich in 2004 as an Independence Party candidate. Kafut-Hagen, of Hibbing, has been described as a DFLer by many, but she filed as an IP candidate on the Secretary of State’s website.
Gov. Mark Dayton set the special election for Feb. 15, but the Feb. 1 primary election is shaping up to be the more interesting contest in the DFL-leaning district. Check back at PIM for updates on the race.