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No. 5 - Elections 2012

Candidates campaigned long and hard in 2012 with the end results on Nov. 6 a mixed bag, depending upon one’s political leanings.

Central and northeastern Minnesota Democrats celebrated the election of Brainerd native Rick Nolan to the 8th Congressional District seat, returning that seat to the Democratic column — where it had been roughly from the end of World War II until Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack’s upset victory over Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., in 2010. The rural Crosby man’s election marked his return to the legislative body he served for three terms, starting in the mid-1970s.

Other DFL state legislative victories, which played a role in that party capturing majorities in the state House and Senate, included wins by Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, in House District 10A and Joe Radinovich in House District 10B. Ward defeated Republican Chris Kellett of Brainerd and Radinovich defeated former Aitkin County Commissioner Dale Lueck.

Area Republican legislative candidates held their ground in House Districts 9B and 9A and in Senate Districts 9 and 10. In the Senate races Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County, jumped districts and defeated former Rep. Al Doty, DFL-Royalton, for the District 9 seat. In Senate District 10 former Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, defeated DFLer Taylor Stevenson of Baxter, in his second bid for the Legislature. Republican Ron Kresha of Little Falls defeated Democrat Adrian Welle of Wadena for the House District 9B seat. GOP candidate Mark Anderson of Lake Shore defeated DFLer Don Niles of Wadena for the House District 9A seat.

Interest was high at the local level, with 18 candidates filing for four positions on the Brainerd City Council. Winners were incumbent Mary Koep and Chip Borkenhagen (at-large), Gary Scheeler in Ward 3 and Dave Pritschet in Ward 1. In Baxter all three incumbents were re-elected. They were Mayor Darrel Olson, who ran unopposed, and council members Todd Holman and Mark Cross.

Winners in a Brainerd School Board race, which drew 10 candidates for three positions were incumbent Reed Campbell, former school board member, Bob Nystrom and Sue Kern.

Paul Koering defeated Crow Wing County Commissioner Phil Trusty for the District 1 seat and Commissioner Doug Houge held off challenger Kris Hasskamp for the District 5 seat.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860