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Primary brings wins and losses for labor-endorsed candidates

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 24, 2012

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — The Primary Elections August 14 brought wins as well as losses for candidates endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation and Minnesota AFL-CIO.

The biggest news: Longtime incumbent Minnesota House member Steve Smith — one of a few Republicans to win AFL-CIO endorsement — lost his Republican primary race by a wide margin to Tea Party challenger Cindy Pugh. They faced off in House District 33B in the Lake Minnetonka area.

In unofficial results reported by the Minnesota Secretary of State, Pugh polled 2,251 votes to Smith’s 949 votes, winning by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin. Pugh led Smith in 21 of 21 precincts.

This past legislative session, Smith had supported labor in opposing the proposed “Right to Work” constitutional amendment.

Pugh supports “Right to Work” and made Smith’s opposition to it one of her campaign issues, helping her win first the Republican Party endorsement and then the primary.

The Republican-leaning district likely will send Pugh to the legislature in November, which means one less of the few labor-friendly Republicans returning to the House — and raises the stakes in all the other close legislative contests where labor is working to win enough seats to secure a bi-partisan, labor-friendly majority.

In other primary results, AFL-CIO endorsed Linda Higgins handily came in first in the primary contest for Hennepin County Commissioner District 2.

In a ten-person race for this open seat, Higgins received 41 percent of the votes cast. Her 4,695 votes were more than double the vote total for the second-place finisher.

Higgins  has served 16 years in the Minnesota Senate representing north Minneapolis and downtown.

The Hennepin County District 2 board seat is open due to the resignation of Mark Stenglein.

In the primary race for Hennepin County Judge, 4th District Court 22, AFL-CIO endorsed Deborah Russell placed third out of four candidates and will not advance to the general election.

In primary races for Wright County Board of Commissioners, one AFL-CIO endorsed candidate will advance to the general election and one will not.

AFL-CIO endorsed Rose Thelen, running for Wright County Commissioner District 2, came in first in a four-candidate primary race. The vote total for all four candidates combined was only 1,518 votes. Thelen won 597 votes — 39 percent of the total — but only 34 votes ahead of the second place finisher.

In the race for Wright County Commissioner District 4, AFL-CIO endorsed Matt Walker came in last of five candidates. This primary race also had very low turnout: a total 896 votes combined were cast for the five candidates.

Municipal races

In the City of Coon Rapids, AFL-CIO endorsed Roger Johnson came in second in a field of four candidates for Council Member at Large. Johnson will advance to the general election. His 750 votes put him just 40 votes ahead of the third place finisher.

In the City of Crystal, AFL-CIO endorsed Dave Anderson — the incumbent — came in third in the four-way primary for City Council Member Section 1. Anderson will not advance to the general election. His 220 votes trailed the second place finisher by 52 votes.

In the primary race for Fridley City Council Member at Large, AFL-CIO endorsed Bob Barnette finished comfortably in first place, winning 58 percent of the vote in a three-candidate contest.

Due to withdrawals by two of its endorsed candidates, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation had only one candidate running in the Minneapolis School Board primary election. Incumbent Carla Bates, running as the AFL-CIO endorsed candidate, led the field of four At Large candidates with nearly 56 percent of the vote.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced that voter turnout in the August 14 State Primary was estimated at 9 percent of eligible voters.


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