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Koenen elected to Senate in District 17

WILLMAR -- Sen. Lyle Koenen won a closely watched race Tuesday night in District 17, where he and Sen. Joe Gimse had challenged each other to represent the district in the Minnesota Senate.

With all of the unofficial returns in by 12:30 a.m., Koenen, a DFLer and 10-year legislative veteran, captured 56 percent of the total with 21,451 votes. Gimse, a Republican who served for six years in the Minnesota Senate, had 17,127 votes.

The contest is one of several in Minnesota where redistricting put two incumbent state legislators into the same district, virtually guaranteeing that one of them will not return to the state Capitol for another term.

The new District 17 includes Kandiyohi, Chippewa and Swift counties and most of Renville County.

Gimse, 55, a Republican from Willmar who works as a land developer, was first elected in 2006 and re-elected to another term in 2010.

Koenen, 56, a DFLer from Clara City and a truck driver and former dairy farmer, served in the Minnesota House from 2002 until this year, when he won a special election to the state Senate to fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Gary Kubly.