Area legislative races stay in Republican hands
WILLMAR — Republicans fared well Tuesday in state legislative races in west central Minnesota, taking a special Senate election and area House races.
In Senate District 13, Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, defeated DFLer Joe Perske, a Stearns County commissioner from Sartell, in a special election to an unexpired term.
The seat was left vacant earlier this year when former Sen. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville was sworn in as lieutenant governor. Howe left his District 13A House seat to run for the Senate.
Howe won with 21,714 votes to Perske's 16,108, a margin of 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent.
Howe's victory maintains a one-vote Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate.
The DFL won control of the Minnesota House, but area seats stayed red. Incumbent Reps. Dave Baker and Tim Miller retained seats in District 17B and 17A, respectively.
Longtime legislator Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, was re-elected in District 18A to his 10th term in the House. Urdahl defeated three opponents and received 11,884 votes, 69.2 percent of those cast. The district includes Meeker County and portions of McLeod and Wright counties.
Others in the race were: DFLer Justin Vold, of Darwin, with 4,269 votes, 24.9 percent; Independent-Judicial Reform candidate Kyle Greene, of Grove City, 650 votes, 3.8 percent; and Libertarian candidate Jill Galvan, of Cosmos, 363 votes, 2.1 percent.
In Howe's old District 13A, Republican Lisa Demuth, of Cold Spring, won over DFLer Jim Read of Avon. Demuth received 11,348 votes, 61 percent. Read received 7,243 votes, 39 percent. District 13A includes southeastern Stearns County.
In District 16A, incumbent Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, received 10,854 votes, 67.6 percent, while DFLer Tom Wyatt-Yerka, of Marshall, received 5,198 votes and 32.4 percent. District 16A includes Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties and parts of Lyon and Redwood counties.