A crowd of about 30 people including family, campaign staff and a sprinkling of supporters cheered on Republican candidate Jason Rarick’s special-election win for Minnesota’s Senate District 11 seat Tuesday night.
Rarick defeated DFL candidate Stu Lourey by 956 votes, according to unofficial results posted on the Minnesota Secretary of State website.
Rarick currently represents District 11-B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He said his first priorities going into the Senate will include advocating for high-speed internet access in rural Minnesota.
“That's the No. 1 thing our area needs,” Rarick said from Banning Junction off Minnesota Highway 23 in Finlayson.
He also said he plans to prioritize transportation funding and working on compromises for Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal to raise the gas tax in order to better fund infrastructure projects.
“I really don’t want to see a gas tax increase,” Rarick said, “but if we can get a dedication on the sales tax, that to me is the best way we should be funding our roads.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, who attended the election watch party, said moving to a two-seat advantage in the Senate will help Republicans pass legislation that matters to the party.
“It’s unrealistic to think 34 people are going to agree on every issue,” Gazelka said. “I think he is the perfect person to represent this district.”
Gazelka added that Rarick still does electrical contracting on the side, making him a strong leader for working-class people.
“That’s the kind of legislator we want in this area,” Gazelka said.
Spencer Krier, of Rarick’s field staff, said he felt confident the election would end in Rarick’s favor when he saw the precincts in Carlton County reporting fewer votes for Lourey than they had anticipated.
Rarick doesn’t yet know when he will be sworn into the Senate, but he plans to head down to St. Paul today to discuss resignation of his District 11-B seat.
Lourey called Rarick to congratulate him on the win Tuesday night.
“I wished him well in what I’m sure is going to be a wild transition following a sprint of a race here, and told him that I’d be here to work together should I have the opportunity to do so as a private citizen,” Lourey said from the River Inn Bar & Grill in Scanlon.
Lourey thanked all his volunteers Tuesday night for the hard work they put in.
“I want to say to everyone who supported me and the many people who volunteered on this campaign, thank you,” he said. “We brought a hopeful kind of politics to the conversation and talked about the issues that matter to people and what we are hearing from our community.”
District 11 includes precincts throughout Carlton and Pine counties and parts of St. Louis and Kanabec counties. The seat was recently vacated by Tony Lourey after he joined the new cabinet of Gov. Tim Walz as commissioner of the state Department of Human Services.
Senate District 11 results
- John “Sparky” Birrenbach, Legal Marijuana Now: 280 votes/2.02 percent
- Jason Rarick, Republican: 7,332 votes/52.98 percent
- Stu Lourey, Democratic-Farmer-Labor: 6,204 votes/44.83 percent
- Write-ins: 24 votes/0.17 percent