Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.
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State Rep. Denny McNamara was coasting to re-election but saw his Republican Party lose control of the Minnesota House. McNamara, R-Hastings, was ahead of DFLer Joanna Bayers 57-42 percent in the House District 54B race, which includes part of south Washington County. McNamara had 8,309 votes to Bayers' 6,073 with 14 of 19 precincts reporting. McNamara has served five terms in the Minnesota House. With Republicans in control of that chamber for the past two years, McNamara has served as chairman of a House environment and natural resources committee.
Democrats easily reclaimed a south Washington County legislative seat they lost in a squeaker of an election two years ago. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate Dan Schoen handily won the Minnesota House District 54A race, beating his chief opponent, Republican Derrick Lehrke, by a 54-37 percent margin. "It's quite a night," Schoen said as he left a DFL Party gathering in St. Paul at 2 a.m. Wednesday, hours after he celebrated election returns with local Democrats at River Oaks Golf Course in Cottage Grove. Schoen rolled to his first election win with 11,069 votes to Lehrke's 7,664.
Newport voters picked incumbents over challengers Tuesday. Mayor Tim Geraghty and City Council members Tom Ingemann and Bill Sumner all won re-election. Geraghty garnered 56 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Steven Gallagher, had 36 percent of the vote. Geraghty drew 983 votes to Gallagher's 628. Gallagher is an incumbent council member. A third mayoral candidate, Paul Hanson, drew 6 percent, or 115 votes. Ingemann was the top vote-getter among four council candidates with 815 votes, or 27 percent. Sumner had 743 votes, good for 25 percent.
Incumbent state Sen. Katie Sieben held a 62-37 percent advantage over Republican challenger Janis Quinlan in early election returns Tuesday. Sieben had 10,214 votes to Quinlan's 6,103 with 18 of 34 precincts reporting in the Senate District 54 race. Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, is seeking her third term in the Senate, where she was first elected in 2006 after serving four years in the House. Quinlan, a realtor, was making her first bid for elected office. In 2010 she campaigned for Sieben's Republican opponent, Karin Housley.
Democrats were hoping to reclaim a south Washington County legislative seat Tuesday night. Early election results put DFLer Dan Schoen ahead of Republican Derrick Lehrke 55-39 percent with 13 of 15 precincts reporting. Schoen had 9,067 votes to Lehrke's 6,023 votes. Independence Party candidate Ron Lischeid of St. Paul Park trailed far behind at 7 percent, with 1,195 votes. Schoen is a St. Paul Park resident and Cottage Grove police officer. Lehrke is a Cottage Grove City Council member.
State Rep. Denny McNamara had an edge over his Democratic challenger in early returns Tuesday. McNamara, R-Hastings, had a 56-43 percent advantage over DFLer Joanna Bayers with eight of 19 House District 54B precincts reporting. McNamara had 3,712 votes to Bayers' 2,895. McNamara has served five terms in the Minnesota House.
Officials corrected poll workers at a Cottage Grove precinct today after a voter reported that an election judge gave instructions on the state constitutional amendments beyond what is allowed. Cottage Grove resident Mary Isely said her Precinct 2 polling location at Light the Way Church was busy when she voted at 10:30 a.m. Isely said an election judge distributing ballots was telling voters in a loud tone that leaving the state constitutional amendment questions unchecked would be a "no" vote.
Janis Quinlan said she was a political junkie but never thought she was on a path toward running for office. Then a map changed her direction. Two years ago Quinlan campaigned for Republican Karin Housley, who ran against Sen. Katie Sieben. Quinlan and Housley were friends through their work as realtors.
Katie Sieben said jobs and the economy are concerns among voters she's encountered while campaigning, but there is a louder message. Sieben, a DFL senator seeking re-election in District 54, she is hearing "a lot more about how people want us to get along with the other side." Despite sharp partisan divisions on high-profile issues, Sieben said she has been successful in working with Republicans on other topics in recent years, from a statewide ban on synthetic marijuana to absentee ballot election reforms recommended after the 2008 U.S.
A Minnesota Senate Republican staffer was fired Friday, hours after he used profanity on Twitter to publicly criticize Cottage Grove Republican John Kriesel's opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Senate GOP legislative assistant Bob Koss took to Twitter Thursday night to sharply criticize Kriesel after he said he saw an anti-amendment television ad featuring the retiring House member. "Just saw the (Kriesel) marriage ad. Really glad the RINO will be leaving the Legislature," Koss tweeted.