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Legislative contests come into focus

Paul Demko//March 5, 2012

Legislative contests come into focus

Paul Demko//March 5, 2012

Sen. Michelle Benson

House and Senate races across the state are rapidly shaking out following the release of new legislative maps.

There will be just two pairs of incumbent senators from the same party facing off against each other in endorsement battles. On the GOP side, Sens. Michelle Benson and Michael Jungbauer are each seeking party backing in a suburban district that includes Ham Lake and East Bethel. DFL Sens. Mary Jo McGuire and John Marty will face off for the endorsement in Senate District 66, which includes Roseville.

On the House side there are expected to be three incumbent pairings from the same party taking each other on. House Majority Leader Matt Dean announced on Monday that he’ll run against fellow GOP Rep. Carol McFarlane in House District 38B, which includes part of White Bear Lake. GOP Reps. Ron Shimanski and Glenn Gruenhagen are both seeking the endorsement in House District 18B in south central Minnesota. On the DFL side, Minneapolis Reps. Frank Hornstein and Marion Greene will face each other in an intra-party battle.

There will likely be three House contests with DFL and GOP incumbents pitted against each other. The pairings: Reps. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, and Carolyn McElfatrick, R-Deer River; Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson, and Roger Crawford, R-Mora; and John Persell, DFL-Bemidji and Larry Howes, R-Walker.

There is expected to be  just one Senate contest with incumbents from rival parties facing off. GOP Sen. John Carlson was drawn into a northern Minnesota District with DFL Sen. Tom Saxhaug.

Other notable developments:

  • District 11A: At least four DFL challengers are eyeing this seat in central Minnesota. The district includes much of the territory currently in Hilty’s district. The DFL challengers include Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren, attorney and war veteran Jesse Berglund, attorney and pizza parlor owner Pete Radosevich and labor leader Mike Sundin.
  • District 16: Former DFL legislator Ted Suss is running for this seat in southwestern Minnesota. Suss, who has been superintendent of Wabasso schools for the last nine years, served in the House from 1975 to 1978. The newly drawn Senate district map has added competitive DFL turf in Lac Qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties. The district is home to GOP Sen. Gary Dahms.
  • District 16B: Rep. Paul Torkelson is moving into this district, which includes most of the area he currently represents in southwestern Minnesota. That will avoid a matchup against GOP incumbent Rep. Tony Cornish.
  • District 17: DFL Reps. Lyle Koenen and Andrew Falk will avoid an intra-party nomination fight in this rural, western Minnesota district. Koenen will run for the Senate against GOP incumbent Sen. Joe Gimse. Falk will seek reelection to the House.
  • District 20: Retired FBI agent Michael Dudley announced that he will be seeking the GOP Senate nomination in a district that includes Northfield and doesn’t have an incumbent. Former DFL Sen. Kevin Dahle, who was defeated by DeKruif in 2010, is also expected to seek the post.
  • District 22: GOP Sen. Doug Magnus is retiring after a decade in the House and Senate. He currently chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Communities Committee.
  • District 23: Sen. Al DeKruif has opted not to run for re-election after being paired with fellow-Republican incumbent Sen. Julie Rosen in a southern Minnesota district. DeKruif knocked off DFL incumbent Kevin Dahle in 2010.
  • District 32B: Rep. Bob Barrett, who was paired up with fellow GOP Rep. Bob Dettmer, announced that he will move into the adjoining Chisago County district and seek re-election.
  • District 33A: St. Bonifacius City Council member Joe Arwood, who pulled the plug on his U.S. Senate candidacy last month, is running in this west-metro district. That seat is currently held by Rep. Connie Doepke, who is running for the Senate.
  • District 42A: Former Rep. Paul Gardner has decided not to run for the open seat in a district that includes parts of Blaine and Arden Hills.
  • District 42B: Two DFL candidates – Jason Isaacson and Peter Strohmeier – have filed to run in this district, which includes Vadnais Heights, Shoreview and Little Canada. That seat is currently held by DFL Rep. Bev Scalze, who is running for Senate. Strohmeier is a legislative assistant and former committee administrator at the Capitol. Isaacoson teaches at Century College and worked on the 2010 campaign of Maureen Reed in the Sixth Congressional District.
  • District 53: Sen. Ted Lillie announced on Friday that he will move into neighboring Senate District 53 and seek re-election. Lillie had been paired with fellow GOP incumbent Sen. Ray Vandeveer in an east-metro district.
  • District 56: Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, the influential chair of the Ways and Means Committee, is moving into House District 58A,which includes much of the territory she currently represents. That leaves an open seat in her redistricted terrain of HD 56B, which Terry McCall, who serves as chair of the GOP in the Second Congressional District, will seek.
  • District 33B: Republican Rep. Steve Smith is likely to face a GOP challenger in his west-metro district. The 11-term incumbent has bucked party orthodoxy on issues like the gay marriage amendment and could face repercussions from GOP activists. Pam Langseth, a member of the Minnetonka School Board, is strongly considering a run and expects to make a decision within a week. “I have been exploring that possibility,” Langseth tells PIM.

Charley Shaw contributed to this post

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