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DFL holds District 41, most of 42
Republican ekes into 42A seat
While the state — and the nation for that matter — largely swung the other direction after Election Day, the DFL held onto District 41, both in the Senate and House of Representatives.
District 41 includes New Brighton, St. Anthony, Columbia Heights, Fridley, Hilltop and a portion of Spring Lake Park.
Columbia Heights resident Carolyn Laine, District 41B’s current representative, hopped up to the Senate with more than 61 percent of the vote over her Republican opponent Gary Johnson, who received nearly 39 percent of the vote.
As Laine becomes Senator for District 41 come January — filling the seat of retiring DFL Sen. Barb Goodwin — DFL-backed Mary Kunesh-Podein has been elected to fill Laine’s seat in the House.
New Brighton’s Kunesh-Podein beat out Republican-backed Camden Pike of St. Anthony with more than 63 percent of the vote, while Pike garnered more than 36 percent of the vote.
In House District 41A, DFL-endorsed incumbent Connie Bernardy of New Brighton was able to retain her position. She received more than 60 percent of the vote, while her Republican challenger Ryan Evanson of Fridley stacked up almost 40 percent.
District 42 was more of a mixed bag — two DFLers and one Republican are set to take office in the new year.
The district encompasses Arden Hills, Mounds View, Shoreview, Gem Lake, Little Canada, Vadnais Heights and parts of Blaine, Roseville and Spring Lake Park.
Roseville resident and DFL-endorsed candidate Jamie Becker-Finn won the House District 42B seat, which is being vacated by DFL Rep. Jason Isaacson.
Becker-Finn beat out Republican-endorsed candidate and Little Canada resident Tracy Nelson 57 percent to 43 percent.
With the House already firmly under Republican control and the Senate set to flip into GOP hands when newly-elected senators are seated next year, Becker-Finn said she’d been in contact with Isaacson, knowing they would have to work together as members of the minority party.
“We know it would take both of us to get things passed for our district,” she said. “We know it’ll be a challenge but both Jason and I are up for it.”
Isaacson, of Shoreview, won the seat of retiring District 42 Sen. Bev Scalze in a slightly tighter race, besting Republican candidate Candy Sina with a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.
“It was a good night for me, but a very bitter night on another level,” Isaacson said of the election results. “We lost the Senate and seats in the House, as well as the presidency itself — so that’s all tempered my enthusiasm for winning the seat,” he said, noting that those results will in essence change how he does his own job in the Senate. “But we have a lot of good messages going on,” he continued. “My message of bipartisanship and working together to solve our problems seems to resonate in our district a lot.”
He said now that his move to the Senate is a reality, he'll keep plugging away at finding agreeable solutions to healthcare, education and connecting people to jobs.
In an email Sina told the Bulletin that she was grateful for the support she received, and that she wishes Isaacson well. She, on the other hand, said on Nov. 9 she was pleased with the up-ballot election results.
House District 42A saw an even tighter race between Republican Randy Jessup of Shoreview and incumbent DFLer Barb Yarusso, with Jessup winning by just 127 votes, or a mere 0.55 percent of the vote.
Two years ago, Yarusso won narrowly over Jessup by only about 1 percent of the vote.
“There’s certainly a number of voters in our district who voted for Hillary Clinton and also cast a vote for me,” Jessup speculated of his win, noting he was encouraged that people were able to look past possible party lines to cast their vote his way.
Though he said the reality hasn’t quite sunken in yet, he’s prepared to jump in to find a solution to healthcare concerns, which he said is a priority.
When asked how it feels to become a representative for such a politically split district, he said he s going to try to balance between “the middle of the road and towing the party line.”
“It’s nice to say, and I know it’s gonna be difficult to do, but I want to try to walk the talk,” Jessup told the Bulletin the day after Election Day.
Jesse Poole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 651-748-7815.