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Stevenson wins DFL Senate District 10 nod on first ballot

Stevenson wins DFL nod for Senate District 10

Ward, Radinovich endorsed for House seats

CROSBY — Taylor Stevenson won at least 60 percent of the vote for a first-ballot victory and the DFL endorsement for Senate District 10 Saturday at Crosby-Ironton High School.

The Baxter substitute teacher, who was the party’s candidate for Senate District 12 in 2010, defeated Terry Sluss and Steve Barrows, both of Baxter. Both of Stevenson’s rivals pledged to support the endorsed candidate.

Party officials declined to release the results of the first ballot stating only that Stevenson met the required 60 percent needed for endorsement.

“I will not let you down,” Stevenson said, accepting the endorsement. “The fight starts today. The fight continues today.

“The dirt’s going to fly. They’re going to throw mud. Every time they throw mud they’re losing ground.”

Winning the DFL endorsements for House District 10A and 10B were Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd (10A), and Joe Radinovich of Crosby (10B). Neither of the House candidates were opposed for the endorsements.

In a speech before votes were cast, Stevenson likened his 2010 defeat to Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, to getting knocked down in football only to get up again.

“And I’m here to tell you all, I’m back up and ready to be your next state senator.”

Stevenson, 24, a Dartmouth College graduate, spoke of his efforts to raise awareness of poverty in the Brainerd area and to help pass the Brainerd School District’s two levy referendums.

He criticized his 2010 opponent for the state Senate as well as the only announced candidate for the Republican endorsement for Senate District 10, former Sen. Carrie Ruud, Breezy Point,

Gazelka has announced his candidacy for the Senate District 9 seat and his intention to move into that district.

“Sen. Gazelka has promised to serve his constituents — but he has not. He promised to be an advocate for all of us, but has instead singly promoted his own agenda,” Stevenson said. “And his hand-picked replacement candidate, Carrie Ruud, can only promise more of the same ...”

In comments after the convention adjourned Stevenson said Democrats were united and he pledged to expend his energy to travel down every gravel road to talk to the average voters.

Ward, first elected to the House in 2006, said that working together and compromising was the only way progress would be made at the Legislature. He criticized Republicans for what he termed their attacks on the labor movement and their attempts at voter suppression through the voter ID legislation.

In his acceptance remarks Ward encouraged the Democrats to work to elect DFLers and lauded those who were willing to run for public office.

“You better put your big boy pants and big girl pants on,” he advised candidates.

Newcomer Joe Radinovich, a fourth generation C-I Ranger, spoke of his union roots and how his great-grandparents traveled to the U.S. from Yugoslavia in order for his great-grandfather to work in the mines. He said his father was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and his mother was a nurse. Radinovich works for the American Federation of Government Employees. He’s a graduate of Macalester College.

Radinovich, 25, said Republicans were attacking teacher tenure but were offering no plan for consistent education funding. He termed the GOP’s Right to Work bill as “the right to work less” and said people today were worried about finding work to put food on the table and health care for their children.

Sluss, a former Crow Wing County commissioner, was the first to the podium to urge party to support Stevenson after his opponent earned a first-ballot victory. He lost the Senate District 12 DFL nod to Stevenson two years ago.

Barrows, a late entry into the race, was nominated by two former veteran state lawmakers, Kris Hasskamp of Crosby and Don Samuelson of Brainerd.

Among the non-voting guests at the convention was Doug Kern, the Crow Wing County Republican Party chair.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow me on Twitter 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