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GOP sweeps Douglas County

Republican candidates dominated Douglas County on Election Day, as voters didn't support a single DFL candidate.

All three incumbent Republican state representatives were returned to office.

In District 8B, Mary Franson garnered 59 percent of the county's votes to DFLer Gail Kulp's 41 percent. Districtwide, Franson received 62 percent of the vote.

When contacted by the Echo Press, Franson said it was an honor and a privilege to be representing District 8B for another two years.

"As I have said for many years, I represent the best and voters know exactly where I stand on the issues," Franson said. "At the end of the day, voters care about issues that directly affect them and they care about our rural way of life."

Franson said there clearly is a metro/rural divide in the state that will play out in the 2019 session.

"For me, though, the new session will be about finding common ground, working together with legislators regardless of party but not caving to the interests that my voters do not share in," she said.

Franson said that a 7-percent cut to home-based community services needs to be reinstated, tax conformity needs to get done and the state needs to continue lowering health care costs without giving into a single-payer system.

"Next, we have to protect our gun rights and our most vulnerable, from the unborn to the elderly," she said. "We clearly have a lot of defense to play but I know conservative values will win out once again."

In District 12A, Republican Jeff Backer was a big winner over DFLer Murray Smart, receiving 69 percent of the county's votes to Smart's 31 percent. Backer, who carried the district with 62 percent of the vote, said that taking the time to hear from district residents was a difference maker in the election.

"I listen to the concerns of the constituents and work to help them to my best of my abilities," he said.

Backer listed four big issues that weighed heavily in the campaign — health care, high taxes, strengthening the economy in western Minnesota by making it more competitive with North Dakota and South Dakota, and protecting agriculture as a way of life.

When the new session starts, Backer plans to work with the new majority in the House to come up with win-win solutions for the people of Minnesota.

"We have a real problem with health care and that needs to be addressed," he added.

In District 12B, Republican Paul Anderson received 68 percent of the county's votes to DFLer Ben Schirmers' 32 percent. Districtwide, Anderson collected 71 percent of the vote.

Anderson said his experience serving on key committees was a big factor in the victory. He also made a point of reaching out to his constituents during his campaign.

"I tried to get around and visit," he said. "I like to meet with folks and I did a lot of door knocking. Advertising on TV, radio and in the newspaper also helped get the word out."

Anderson, a farmer, said a long, three-week spell of rainy weather gave him extra time to campaign because he wasn't able to harvest.

Voters in 12A listed health insurance costs as a top concern, along with taxes, Anderson said.

One of his first priorities in the upcoming session will be to support a state tax conformity bill to match changes made at the federal level. He also plans to work on a buffer bill that offers compensation for farmers; property tax reform; making schools safer with secured entrances on doors; and increasing funding for mental health services and treatment.

Statewide races

Out of all the partisan races, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the closest DFL contender in Douglas County with 47 percent of the vote. However, county voters preferred challenger Jim Newberger, giving him 50 percent of the vote. Statewide, Klobuchar easily prevailed with 60 percent of the vote.

Another close race came in the U.S. House 7th District. Douglas County voters favored Republican challenger Dave Hughes over 14-term DFL incumbent Collin Peterson by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. Peterson prevailed districtwide with 52 percent of the vote.

The county really showed its conservative side in the race for attorney general, giving Republican Doug Wardlow 63 percent of the vote to Keith Ellison's 32 percent. Statewide, Ellison won with 49 percent of the vote.

Other races were also lopsided:

Governor — Republican Jeff Johnson received 60 percent over DFLer Tim Walz with 37 percent. Statewide, Walz won with 54 percent of the vote.

Secretary of state — Republican John Howe, 61 percent, over DFL incumbent Steve Simon with 35 percent. Simon won statewide with 52 percent of the vote.

State auditor — Republican Pam Myhra, 61 percent, over DFLer Julie Blaha with 34 percent. Blaha collected 49 percent of the vote statewide to win.

U.S. Senate — Republican Karin Housley carried Douglas County with 60 percent of the vote over DFLer Tina Smith's 37 percent. Smith won statewide with 53 percent of the vote.

Douglas County election results

State Representative District 8B

Mary Franson, R (incumbent) 6,628

Gail Kulp, DFL 4,653

Franson also won districtwide with 62 percent of the vote.

State Representative District 12A

Jeff Backer, R (incumbent) 1,829

Murray Smart, DFL 866

Backer also won districtwide with 62 percent of the vote.

State Representative District 12B

Paul Anderson, R (incumbent) 2,735

Ben Schirmers, DFL 1,288

Anderson also won districtwide with 71 percent of the vote.

U.S. Representative, District 7

Collin Peterson, DFL (incumbent) 8,577

Dave Hughes, R 9,419

Peterson won districtwide with 52 percent of the vote.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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