With primary election over, candidates plan next moves

The victors are beginning to plan their campaigns moving forward, while a Brainerd City Council candidate made the decision to push forward and a legislative candidate opted against a recount in a very close race.

Dave Grotzke checks in with election judge Kathy Hegstrom Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at The Woods Event Center to vote in the primary election.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — As the dust settled Wednesday, Aug. 10, on Minnesota’s primary election, some local candidates contemplated their next steps.

The victors are beginning to plan their campaigns moving forward, while a Brainerd City Council candidate made the decision to push forward and a legislative candidate opted against a recount in a very close race.

Here are those stories plus more local county results.

Brainerd City Council

Leonard Skillings will resurrect his campaign for Brainerd City Council after garnering the second-most votes in the race for Ward 1 during Tuesday’s primary and face off against Kara Terry in the general election.

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The special election for the Ward 1 seat resulted from the resignation of Dave Pritschet earlier this year. At that time, the three candidates who filed to run for the seat — Skillings, Terry and Jamie Bieser — also applied to be appointed to fill the vacancy through the end of the year. When the council voted 5-1 to appoint Bieser in July, with one vote for Terry, Skillings said he would stop campaigning for the primary and put his support behind Bieser, as he felt they shared similar values.


Skillings could not take his name off that ballot at that time, though, as the withdrawal period had passed. He then earned 114 votes in Tuesday’s primary election, putting him behind Terry’s 160 votes and ahead of Bieser’s 94. The results mean he and Terry will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot of the council seat.

Leonard Skillings sits at table
Leonard Skillings is one of three candidates running to represent Ward 1 on the Brainerd City Council.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

“The people have spoken,” Skilling said Wednesday after taking some time to let the results sink in.

“It was a little overwhelming,” he added. “... I said a few prayers and asked for some guidance and direction.”

The guidance pointed him in the direction of picking his campaign back up for the general election.

“One of the most important things to do is listen to the people. You must hear what it is that they want. Then listen closer to what their needs are,” Skillings wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Skillings plans to get out to meet those in his ward, hear what they want to see in the city and get his name out there before the general election in November. He hopes to plan a meet and greet for his neighbors sometime in September and urges those in Ward 1 to stay tuned for details.

“Thank you to all those that voted for me,” Skillings wrote in his statement Wednesday. “To those who supported Mr. Bieser please reach out to me. I have very similar values and will represent you well. To all those who help with the election process, thanks for what you do.”

House District 5B

Sheldon Monson will not pursue a recount in the Republican primary race for House District 5B, where the Wadena County commissioner fell 40 votes short of party-endorsed candidate Mike Wiener.


Sheldon Monson headshot
Sheldon Monson.

The 40-vote margin separated the two among a total of 4,158 votes cast in the district, which includes Todd County, southern Wadena County, a portion of southern Cass County and the northwestern corner of Morrison County.

The 0.96% difference does not qualify for a publicly funded recount, per the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The margin must be less than one-half of 1% in state legislative races to trigger the recount.

Monson said Wednesday he did not believe a recount would change the result.

“We ran a very honorable campaign top to bottom,” Monson said. “You just never know what undercurrents there are out there.”

Wiener said the result in his favor is very exciting, but the primary is only one step in the process toward achieving elected office.

Mike Wiener
Mike Wiener.

“We can say things on the campaign trail but we gotta have a game plan written up — how are we going to make these things happen?” Wiener said. “So I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November.”

In the immediate future, however, Wiener said he plans to take some time to focus on his family.

“I’m going to take a few days off and spend some time with my family. It’s been a busy summer and we need to spend a little quality time for a few days together,” he said.


Wiener, an animal bedding and biomass small business owner and cattle farmer, will face Independence-Alliance Party candidate Gregg Hendrickson in the November general election.

Senate District 7

Ben DeNucci defeated challenger Kim (Kotanis) McLaughlin in the primary election to represent the DFL Party on the November ballot in Senate District 7.

DeNucci earned 4,003 votes, or 50.26%, to McLaughlin’s 3,962 votes, or 49.74%.

DeNucci will face Republican Robert Farnsworth on Nov. 8.

Senate District 7 includes the northern half of Aitkin County and portions of Itasca and St. Louis counties, including the cities of Hibbing and Virginia.

Darlene Clark votes in Minnesota's primary election Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brainerd.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Mille Lacs County sheriff

Mille Lacs County sheriff candidates Kyle A. Burton and Travis Johnson were the top two vote-getters among a field of four.


Burton earned more than 60% of the vote with 2,016 votes. Johnson came in a distant second-place, earning 795 votes, or 23.97%. Patrick Broberg was third with 320 votes and Ryan VanDenheuvel received 186 votes.

The seat is open next year after current Mille Lacs County Sheriff Don Lorge previously announced his retirement.

Burton and Johnson will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Wadena County sheriff

Current Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr Jr. coasted to an easy victory in a three-way primary contest with challenger Milo Scott also advancing to the general election.

Carr earned 1,432 votes representing 71.96% of votes cast. Scott received 511 votes, earning second place and a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot. Jason Hofer received 47 votes.

Aitkin County Board

In District 3, Travis J. Leiviska was the top vote-getter with 293 votes, followed closely by incumbent Commissioner Don Niemi with 285 votes. Patrick Murphy placed third with 198 votes and will not move on to the Nov. 8 general election.

In District 5, Michael L. Kearney received 286 votes with incumbent Commissioner Ann Marcotte earning 252 votes. With 181 votes, Doug McNeil did not earn enough support to continue in the contest.

Todd County Board

Lew Noska and Nikki Deyle received enough votes to advance to the Nov. 8 general election for the Todd County Board.


Noska was the top vote-getter for the District 4 seat, earning 270 votes and 44.78% of votes cast. Deyle received 214 votes, or 35.49%. Robert Henrich placed third, earning 119 votes.

District 4 is currently represented by David Kircher, who did not file to run for election.

Wadena County Board

Wadena County Board candidates Ron Noon and Don Burns were the top two vote-getters during the primary election.

Noon and Burns will advance to the Nov. 8 general election to represent District 1. Noon earned 223 votes, or 63.35% of votes cast. Burns received 82 votes, or 23.3%. Coming in third was Victor M. Kern, who gained 47 votes.

District 1 is currently represented by Sheldon Monson, who narrowly lost the Republican primary for House District 5B.

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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