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No primary for GOP as Rarick wins endorsement

Jason Rarick

There will be no primary on the Republican side of the special election in Minnesota Senate District 11, where party members endorsed state Rep. Jason Rarick.

Rarick outpointed Justin Krych, a GOP loyalist from Esko, at the endorsement convention on Tuesday in Hinckley. Neither Pine City Mayor Carl Pederson and nor Pine County resident Matthias Shir received a vote.

"I feel energized," Rarick said on Tuesday. "It was such an incredible turnout, and right from the beginning we knew we were going to come out with one candidate. It means so much to me to be supported. I'm going to hit it hard for the next 28 days."

The Senate District 11 seat was vacated last week when Tony Lourey was appointed to Gov. Tim Walz's cabinet as human services commissioner.

Both Krych and Rarick confirmed that all unendorsed candidates agreed to withdraw their candidacies. Senate District 11 represents all of Carlton and Pine counties, eastern Kanabec County and a portion of southern St. Louis County.

The special general election will be held Feb. 5.

"Things didn't work out as expected for me," Krych said. "But Rep. Rarick and I have always had a professional, positive and cordial relationship, and I certainly support his candidacy."

On the DFL side, Stu Lourey and Michelle Lee are headed for a primary, which will be held Jan. 22. A DFL endorsement convention is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 19 at Barnum High School. But since the candidacy withdrawal period ends at the close of business today, there will be a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party primary regardless of who is endorsed.

Both Lee and Lourey have been busy lining up fundraising and door-knocking events. Lee's campaign will host a fundraiser in Esko at 7 p.m. Friday at a residence at 41 Serenity Way. The Lourey campaign will host an event at Doc's Bar and Grill in Sturgeon Lake at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Lourey is the son of Tony Lourey, and Lee was runner-up with more than 14,000 votes for the DFL in the 8th Congressional District primary last August.

Rarick said it was important the Republicans avoided a primary given the short timeframe until the special election.

"It's our best shot to win," he said.

Rarick currently represents District 11B in the House of Representatives. He is looking to leave a DFL-controlled state house to join the Minnesota Senate, in which the Republicans have a two-seat advantage.

"Minnesota is the only state that has a divided government, and I think that's a positive thing," Rarick said. "Having one more vote for the Republican Party in the senate means there has to be compromise and the parties working together."