Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth has defeated Republican challenger Jason Peterson of Cormorant. With 82 percent of precincts counted at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday Marquart was leading 59 percent to 41 percent.
Marquart will get to enjoy at least two years in the majority, as DFLers won at least 15 new seats to take the Minnesota House. They needed 11 to win the House majority, which they last controlled four years ago. Speaker Kurt Daudt conceded the House majority Tuesday night. Republicans retain control of the state Senate.
Peterson, a political science student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, thanked voters for their support. He lost in Becker County by just 35 votes, out of 6,659 votes cast.
"The opportunity to run for the Minnesota House of Representatives and hear the concerns of voters from across House District 4B has been an incredible honor," Peterson said. "I want to congratulate Rep. Paul Marquart on his victory and I look forward to working with him in the future. Thank you to the voters who trusted me with their support and their vote."
Marquart also thanked his supporters. "I'm very thankful to the residents of District 4B for giving me the honor to serve them another term in St. Paul. We now have a divided government in St. Paul with the House controlled by the DFL and the Senate controlled by the Republicans. We must work together and compromise to produce the best results for rural Minnesota and the entire state," he said. "I think this divided government will be beneficial in addressing the big issues around the state in terms of lowering taxes and increasing investments in education, jobs and health care."
In House District 2B, Republican Rep. Steve Green of Fosston handily defeated his DFL opponent, DFLer Karen Branden of Rochert. With 95 percent of the vote counted, he was leading 61 percent to 39 percent early Wednesday morning. The results in Becker County almost exactly mirrored those district-wide results. Green was first elected in 2012.
"Thanks to all the volunteers and voters that made my election a success," Green said. "It is an honor to continue to serve the great people of District 2B. Although there is a change in leadership at the Capitol, I will continue to be visible and active in the district. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any concerns you may have."
It was Branden’s first run for elective office.
“This has been one of the most important things I have ever done in my life,” she said in an email. “Telling the truth is getting harder to do. Our national political climate breeds lying and hate. I have not found those things in our local communities. I have seen poverty and struggle, resilience and laughter, and people telling us what they need.
“We heard the truth of people's lives and me losing this race does not change that. We have already come together and now we'll demand our elected officials represent a coming together. So I congratulate Steve Green with that challenge, and we are all here to help him. I have never been alone on this campaign.”
She thanked her campaign staff and county DFL organizations. “And to all my supporters, remember you're not alone, keep using your voice,” she said.