Senate District 10: Wesenberg tops Cekalla to head to Minnesota Senate

Wesenberg earned 28,239 votes to Cekalla’s 10,602, capturing 72.51% of votes cast in Senate District 10. The district, which did not have a seated senator following redistricting earlier this year, includes portions of Aitkin, Benton, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Morrison counties.

Nathan Wesenberg
Nathan Wesenberg.
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BRAINERD — Republican Nathan Wesenberg will represent a new face in the Minnesota Senate after defeating DFLer Suzanne Cekalla by a hefty margin Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Wesenberg earned 28,239 votes to Cekalla’s 10,602, capturing 72.51% of votes cast in Senate District 10. The district, which did not have a seated senator following redistricting earlier this year, includes portions of Aitkin, Benton, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Morrison counties.

Wesenberg, a wildlife biologist, was a first-time candidate seeking to represent Senate District 10. The Little Falls husband and father topped a field of three GOPers in the August primary, earning a plurality of votes with 36.8%.

“I think people want someone to stand up for their beliefs and what they’re looking for is a voice in politics,” he said early Wednesday morning. “I feel like people haven’t been represented, and I’ve been telling people that’s what I’m going to do. So I’m just listening to people and doing what my constituents say needs to be done.”

Wesenberg said people’s desire for change crossed party lines, and he spoke to Democrats who shared frustrations with a party they feel no longer represents them. He said one of the primary issues he focused on during his campaign was term limits, and people got on board with this concept.


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“It’s a conservative area, but I think it’s more about — it’s not R versus D, it’s about right versus wrong and there’s things that need to change that are not good,” he said. “We just need common sense.”

Cekalla, also a first-time candidate, said despite the loss she’s happy with her performance.

Suzanne Cekalla headshot
Suzanna Cekalla.

“I really gave the people a different choice and a different opportunity and they made their choice. And now because they made their choice, everybody has to deal with that and I’m OK with it,” Cekalla said. “I’ve done all that I could do and now that’s it. It’s not on me anymore. They made this what it was. They had a good choice and they chose to go just with the party.”

Cekalla said she grew up in Morrison County and has a wide variety of experiences, including working in health care as both a nurse and a hospital chaplain, owning a small business, helping to start the Rice Chamber of Commerce and serving a role in Tri-County Community Action as a youth employment director. She now operates a home-based business as a practitioner of healing touch and spiritual coaching.

Although the district remained firmly in GOP control, Cekalla said she earned more than 10,000 votes for a reason — because some issues are too important to be brushed aside.

“In a group of people who haven’t been very organized in the past, I think this is going to be a shift in the movement of the Democratic Party here,” Cekalla said.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or Follow on Twitter at

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 or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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