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MRLF helps win targeted races for Minnesota House of Representatives

MRLF field staff gathered October 15 before heading out for doorknocking as part of the Labor 2018 union member outreach effort.

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 16, 2018

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — In the successful campaign to win a labor-friendly majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation identified ten suburban House races as the top priorities for its union member to union member outreach work. Come election night, the MRLF helped to win nine of those ten House races, plus two out of three House races in a second tier of targets.

Here’s a brief look at the results.

House District 36A: Zack Stephenson

With no incumbent in the race for House District 36A in Champlin and Coon Rapids, DFL and labor-endorsed Zack Stephenson earned 52 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Bill Maresh.

House District 37A: Erin Koegel

Seeking re-election to a second term to represent House District 37A —Blaine, Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park — DFL and labor-endorsed Erin Koegel prevailed against a flood of outside money opposing  her. She earned 56 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Anthony Wilder.

House District 37B: Amir Malik

Two years ago in the race for House District 37B in Blaine, Republican Nolan West defeated DFL and labor-endorsed Susan Witt by 168 votes. Amir Malik ran with DFL and labor endorsement this year, seeking to unseat West. Malik told the Labor Review — “168 votes — everybody can make a difference.” The race was even closer this year. West edged out Malik by 153 votes, according to unofficial results posted November 6.

House District 44A: Ginny Klevorn

The race this year in House District 44A in Plymouth was a rematch from 2016, with DFL and labor-endorsed Ginny Klevorn challenging Republican incumbent Sarah Anderson. This year, Klevorn won, earning nearly 54 percent of the vote and beating Anderson by 1,876 votes. “Ginny Klevorn felled a giant,” House DFL leader Representative Melissa Hortman commented on election night.

House District 44B: Patty Acomb

With the DFL incumbent not seeking re-election in House District 44B, Minnetonka City Council member Patty Acomb ran for the seat with DFL and labor endorsement. She earned nearly 63 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Gary Porter.

House District 48B:
Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn

The race for House District 48B, which lies primarily in Eden Prairie, was one of the closest House races of the year. Political newcomer Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn ran with DFL and labor endorsement against five-term Republican incumbent Jennifer Loon. Kotyza-Witthuhn won 10,397 to 10,156 — a margin of only 241 votes.

House District 49A: Heather Edelson
House District 49A in Edina in recent years has flipped back and forth between the DFL and the Republicans. First-time candidate Heather Edelson, running with DFL and labor endorsement, took on first term Republican incumbent Dario Anselmo. Edelson ran a vigorous campaign. She told the Labor Review her campaign reached 51,000 doors, made 15,000 phone calls, and staffed 2,400 volunteer shifts. Edelson won with just over 58 percent of the vote.

House District 49B: Steve Elkins
House District 49B in Bloomington, Edina and Minnetonka was an open seat, with the DFL incumbent Paul Rosenthal retiring. Former Bloomington City Council member Steve Elkins ran for the seat with DFL and labor endorsement. He won nearly 62 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Matt Sikich.

House District 55A: Brad Tabke
House District 55A includes Shakopee and nearby townships. Former Shakopee mayor Brad Tabke ran with DFL and labor endorsement, defeating Republican Erik Mortensen by 604 votes. Mortensen had defeated the Republican incumbent, Bob Loonan, in the primary.

House District 56A: Hunter Cantrell
In House District 56A in Savage and Burnsville, 23-year old SEIU Healthcare Minnesota union member Hunter Cantrell ran with DFL and labor endorsement and defeated two-term Republican incumbent Drew Christiansen. Cantrell won with nearly 53 percent of the vote.

Tier two races

In the MRLF’s second tier of targeted races:

• DFL and labor-endorsed Kristin Bahner defeated two-term incumbent Republican Dennis Smith in House District 34B in Maple Grove.

• DFL and labor-endorsed Kathryn Eckhardt lost to Republican incumbent Peggy Scott in House District 35B (Andover, Coon Rapids, Ramsey).

• DFL and labor-endorsed Samantha Vang, running for House District 40B (Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park) won with nearly 73 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Robert Marvin. Longtime DFL incumbent Debra Hilstrom did not seek re-election.


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