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Heintzeman gains local GOP endorsement as Kern presses on

Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, currently represents House District 10A. He announced he would seek reelection last month in what is now known as District 6B following the release of new maps as part of the redistricting effort. Kern announced in early March plans to run for the same seat.

Headshots of Rep. Josh Heintzeman and Doug Kern
Rep. Josh Heintzeman, left, and Doug Kern are both vying to represent House District 6B in 2023.
Contributed

BRAINERD — Rep. Josh Heintzeman received the endorsement of the Crow Wing County Republicans Thursday, March 10, over challenger Doug Kern — but he appears to be headed to a primary election this summer.

Seeking his fifth term as a Minnesota legislator, Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, currently represents House District 10A. He announced he would seek reelection last month in what is now known as District 6B following the release of new maps as part of the redistricting effort. Kern announced in early March plans to run for the same seat. Both are former chairs of the Crow Wing County Republicans.

Forest Hyatt, current chair, said Monday a total of about 135 delegates and alternate delegates attended the Thursday endorsing convention at Faith Baptist Church in Brainerd.

Candidates were vetted by a five-person committee to ensure they are qualified for the office and delegates voted by secret ballot. Hyatt said Heintzeman won the endorsement 111-15.

Heintzeman said in his eighth year in office, he’s grateful to still have strong support from the local party.

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“It’s definitely affirmation of the positions that you’ve taken and the representation that you’ve offered, and quite a blessing to still get the nod and such a strong level of support,” Heintzeman said by phone Monday.

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Although Heintzeman said there’s been internal conversations by potential challengers in the past, this is the first time a fellow Republican stepped up to officially run against the representative since he’s been in office. Heintzeman said his experience in St. Paul is what sets him apart from Kern.

“It’s quite unlike anything else that is in normal, private sector work. To take that experience, not only from my business model, but then apply those principles and values in government is a heck of a challenge,” Heintzeman said. “And to do that for four terms, going on a fifth, would be certainly a significant difference.”

Heintzeman said he didn’t want to take anything away from the position of those wanting a fresh face in office and it’s part of the process for people to consider alternatives.

“That discussion was interesting, because the feedback I got is that there wasn’t any — in particular, there wasn’t any issue that they had with my representation,” he said. “It was simply a conversation about who might be interested in potentially taking on that role. And the delegates certainly shared their feelings on that, quite resoundingly.”

Heintzeman said he’s watched the political winds of the area change from purple to blood red, and he intends to continue representing those values at the Capitol.

“There’s certainly a shift that has taken place regionally and continues to move towards conservative principles and values more so than probably anyone ever would have predicted,” he said. “So it’s really my responsibility, I think, to build on the expectations of this area’s values and bring that to St. Paul and just — I plan to keep doing that.”

Kern said he made the decision to run for the Minnesota House of Representatives in October 2021 and was surprised to see Crow Wing Township — his home precinct — included in Heintzeman’s district with the redistricting. This did not deter him from running, however, and he noted he feels he is the best person to represent the district and he can do the job better. The first-time state-level candidate said he intends to take the battle for the seat to a primary election in August.

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“I know that I listen. Anybody that knows me knows I listen, and I will represent,” Kern said during a phone interview Monday. “ … I won’t be silent. I just — I feel, really all I can say is I feel that after the last two years, I will represent the area.”

When asked about particular issues motivating him to seek office, Kern said the people of the district were his primary concern.

“I’m very passionate at what is going on with people,” Kern said. “People in the district — there’s so many. I’m just passionate about people. … I just feel I can represent people better in a voice for them at the Capitol in the new district.”

In his campaign announcement, Kern said he supports life, family, law enforcement, guns, business, military, teaching American exceptionalism in education, election integrity, medical freedom, serving and God.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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