WILLMAR -- DFL'er Mary Sawatzky appears to have turned the tables, upsetting Republican incumbent Bruce Vogel who had won his job two years ago by toppling a long-established incumbent.
Unofficial vote numbers on election night showed Sawatzky leading Vogel and Independent candidate Zachary Liebl with 36 of 40 precincts reporting. Sawatzky had 8,893, Vogel had 7,967 and Liebl had 1,342.
The DFL and Republican parties invested heavily in the campaign for the new district that includes all of Kandiyohi County, except for four townships in the southwest corner.
Sawatzky, 51, of Willmar, is a learning disabilities instructor with the Willmar Public Schools and serves as the Education Minnesota president for the district.
Vogel, 53, is a Realtor with Edina Realty in Willmar and previously operated his own contractor business.
Liebl, 23, of Atwater, a member of the National Guard, was making his first bid for state office and is working toward establishing the Independence Party in the state.