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Kriesel leads, but recount possible in razor-thin 57A race

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A recount could be coming in the race for state house District 57A, with Republican John Kriesel just 54 votes ahead of DFLer Jen Peterson as of early Wednesday morning.

With 15 of the district's 16 precincts reporting, Kriesel, the former Minnesota National Guardsman, led Peterson, a Cottage Grove City Council member, 6,467 votes to 6,413 in the race to replace retiring DFL Rep. Karla Bigham, of Cottage Grove.

A margin of victory a half-percent or smaller triggers an automatic recount by the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, Kriesel led Peterson 50.2 percent to 49.7 percent.

Write-in votes -- 12 of them -- made up .001 percent of the ballots cast.

Only Cottage Grove's fourth precinct had not reported early Wednesday. That precinct is Kriesel's home turf, and was the only area won by Republican candidate Kurt Perkins in his race against Bigham in'08.

The state GOP focused on the 57A race this year, hoping to flip a reliably Democratic seat Republican with the retirement of the popular Bigham. A Kriesel victory would be one of dozens won by Minnesota state Republicans Tuesday as they thumped DFL incumbents and appeared likely to win a majority in both the state House and Senate.

Kriesel did not return phone calls seeking comment. Peterson said she hoped the race's extremely narrow margin would trigger a recount. She said she would be in contact with state DFL officials Wednesday to determine what her next steps.

"I knew it would be close; it doesn't surprise me that it was close," Peterson said.

Check for updates on the tight contest for control of 57A.