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Kriesel, Republicans wrest control of 57A

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Republican John Kriesel claimed the House District 57A seat early Wednesday morning after eking out a narrow election night victory over his DFL opponent, Cottage Grove City Council member Jen Peterson.

Kriesel and Republicans won control of what has been a reliably Democratic seat in the state House, winning 51.5 percent of the vote in a working-class district that encompasses parts of Cottage Grove and South St. Paul, and all of St. Paul Park, Newport and Grey Cloud Island Township.

Peterson fell just 452 votes shy, with 48.4 percent of the ballots cast. The race looked likely to head to a recount for much of the night, with neither candidate pulling more than 100 votes ahead as returns were posted after polls closed at 8 p.m.

Kriesel clinched the electoral victory with the final precinct to report -- his own -- at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kriesel's victory wrests partisan control of the area away from the DFL for the first time in what is believed to be decades. The former Minnesota National Guard soldier joined dozens of other state Republicans who won in numerous DFL-held districts Tuesday. The state GOP appeared set to take control of both the state House and Senate in St. Paul.

Kriesel did not respond to calls seeking comment. Peterson said she was disappointed with the result, and said had expected a nail-biter.

"I knew it would be close; it doesn't surprise me that it's close," Peterson said before all precincts had reported.

Check for more on the House District 57A race.