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Falk retains District 20B House seat

Andrew Falk, DFL, Murdock, survived a hard-fought campaign by Republican challenger Jay Backer, Graceville, to return for a second term in the state legislature.

Late results showed Falk the winner by a 7,418 to 6,818 total, according to unofficial totals Wednesday morning. The results included 100 percent of the precincts in the dsitrct.

Falk, 27, farms near Murdock and assists his father Jim as the fifth generation in the family's farm and seed business. He is also a founder of a company looking to erect a wind farm in western Minnesota. He is single.

This is Falk's second close victory in a conservative district that has favored DFL candidates, but has seen strong Republican challengers emerge.

Backer, 43, is a twin brother and business partner to Jeff Backer, who ran for senate against Keith Langseth. The two brothers operate an Internet-based business that sells above ground pools, ATVS, go-karts and portable heaters. He and his wife Michele are parents to five school-aged children.

Backer, 43, argued for a better jobs climate and aggressively campaigned under the mantra ''jobs, jobs, and jobs.'' His supporters also took aim at Falk for the closing of the Prairie Correctional Facility by its owner, Corrections Corporation of America.

Falk had defended his efforts to sponsor legislation to keep Minnesota inmates at the facility and work with company officials to maintain the prison. His campaign focused on working to find ways to balance the budget that are fair to tax payers in rural areas, and to protect state funding for education and local governments in rural areas.