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Reinert wins House 7B DFL primary

Duluth City Council President Roger Reinert, 38, stood out from a crowded field to handily win the 7B primary, and as the DFL candidate now becomes the favorite to fill the seat vacated by Mike Jaros.

Duluth City Council President Roger Reinert, 38, stood out from a crowded field to handily win the 7B primary, and as the DFL candidate now becomes the favorite to fill the seat vacated by Mike Jaros.

Reinert's 20-point margin of victory was a surprise to many -- even to him.

"Going into today I thought it would be close," said Reinert, an adjunct faculty member at Lake Superior College and the University of Minnesota Duluth.

His chief rival, Marshall Stenersen, also thought the race would be closer. Stenersen got several key endorsements, including from Jaros himself.

But he said Reinert's name recognition as a city councilor and his fundraising prowess were too difficult to overcome.

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"We figured we needed 1,900 votes to carry the day," he said. "There just wasn't a big enough turnout."

Though Stenersen threw a few attacks at Reinert during the campaign -- alluding that he was focused on bigger offices and took money from Republican donors -- Stenersen said Tuesday night that he was throwing his support to Reinert.

"I called Roger and said, 'Where do I send my check?'" he said.

Reinert's main message throughout the primary was what he could do in St. Paul to assist the city, such as what to do with the aquarium and how to pay for sanitary sewer overflow fixes.

He said that message won't change in the general election.

"When we went and door knocked the entire district ... the No. 1 thing on people's minds is concern about city issues," he said.

His Republican opponent, Allan Kehr, acknowledges that he has an uphill battle in the general election.

"I understand my odds of winning are not very great," he said.

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But he said his message won't change, either.

"I didn't see a lot of difference between the Democrats on the issues," he said. "I don't think they're being forthright with people because they're not telling people about the taxes that will be increasing to pay for what they're promising."

If Reinert wins the 7B seat, the City Council will have to appoint someone to take his spot on the council. One of the losers in the 7B race Tuesday night, Brandon Clokey, said he might be interested in that position if Reinert wins.

Clokey said he was disappointed by Tuesday's results, but said he hoped Democrats would throw their support behind Reinert.

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