GOP-friendly sentiment extends into southeastern Minnesota
Reflecting the GOP takeover of the state House and Senate, Republican legislative candidates in several races in southeastern Minnesota swept to victory and swept DFL incumbents out.
There were exceptions. State Sen. Dan Sparks, an Austin Democrat, won a third four-year term in District 27, defeating GOP challenger Kathy Green 62 percent to 38 percent.
The race between DFL Rep. Robin Brown of Austin and GOP challenger Rich Murray for House 27A was too close to call early today and could be heading for a recount. With all precincts in, Murray had a 58-vote lead over Brown, a two-term incumbent.
DFL Rep. Jeanne Poppe of Austin coasted to victory for her fourth term in District 27B, defeating GOP challenger Jennifer Gumbel 58 percent to 42 percent.
Red Wing Mayor John Howe claimed the District 28 senate seat for Republicans, defeating DFLer Joe Fricke 55 percent to 45 percent. The seat had been held by DFLer Steve Murphy.
GOP Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing won re-election to a second term in District 28A, beating DFLer Jerry Roth 63 percent to 37 percent.
After winning a special election in 2007, Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Mazeppa Republican, romped over DFL challenger Mark Schneider in the District 28B race.
GOP challenger Jeremy Miller apparently upset first-term DFL Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes in a close race in District 31. With all but one precinct reporting at 8:30 a.m. today, Miller had a 397-vote lead. Erickson Ropes hasn't conceded but said she wouldn't contest the results.
"I've very excited to get to work and start working with the people southeastern Minnesota," Miller said this morning.
Rep. Gene Pelowski, a Winona Democrat and high school teacher, won his 13th term in District 31A by defeating GOP challenger Rhette Zenke.
And in a three-way race in District 31B, GOP Rep. Greg Davids of Preston defeated DFL candidate Steve Kemp and Independent candidate Al Hein. Davids won 56 percent of the vote to Kemp's 26 percent and Hein's 18 percent. Davids was elected to the House in 1991, held it for 16 years, was defeated in 2006 and reclaimed it in 2008.