Republican edges longest-serving woman in Minnesota Legislature by 35 votes, triggers automatic recount

Duluth's Natalie Zeleznikar unseated Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, in House District 3B by margin of 50.01%-49.85%, according to unofficial results.

people talking with candiadates
Natalie Zeleznikar, center, Minnesota House District 3B candidate, looks at results with Karen Bonniwell, left, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and Nancy Loudon of Maple Plain, Minnesota, at Black Woods Event Center on Tuesday in Proctor.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Just 35 votes edged Natalie Zeleznikar, a Republican from Duluth, over Rep. Mary Murphy, the longest-serving female legislator in Minnesota, in the House District 3B race, according to unofficial results Wednesday morning.

Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, also the second-longest-serving legislator in the state, has held the seat since 1976.

Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy

Zeleznikar received 10,812 votes (50.01%), while Murphy had 10,777 (49.85%), according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State , the race falls within the parameters of a publicly funded recount.

"I'm just committed to the process that every legal vote counts and I'm confident in the strength of our campaign. It's a testament to how hard we worked the last eight months," said Zeleznikar.


Zeleznikar has cared for seniors for 30 years as a nursing home administrator/assisted living owner/operator.

If Zeleznikar officially prevails as representative for Minnesota House District 3B, she said her top priorities will be to work in favor of initiatives that ensure a strong business community by supporting jobs, closing the childcare gap, and addressing the rising costs of living for individuals and families. Zeleznikar also plans to work toward solutions for 24-hour staffing to provide quality outcomes for seniors, as well as working to address social security tax.

Murphy taught school for three years at Clover Valley and 33 years at Duluth Central High School. She is a former union member and former vice president of the Duluth Area Central Labor Body. She declined to comment Wednesday on the unofficial results of the election.

District 3B includes Two Harbors and other unorganized territories in Lake County; Proctor; Rice Lake; Hermantown; and the following St. Louis County townships: Alden, Ault, Canosia, Duluth, Fairbanks, Fredenberg, Gnesen, Grand Lake, Lakewood, Midway, Normanna, North Star, Pequaywan and Solway.

This story was last updated at 11:52 a.m. Nov. 9. It was originally posted at 1:40 a.m. Nov. 9.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

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