Ruud, Gazelka crush intraparty rivals

The Senate Majority Leader said he's happy to put the primary behind him while he looks to help organize a push for continued Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate in districts across the state.


The incumbents have fended off the challengers and convincingly so, after state Sens. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, and Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, emerged from their respective primaries with no less than 80% of the vote.

As with any election during the pandemic, the final results will take some time to tally with mail-in ballots and absentee ballots to count, but both senators enjoyed large leads in the in-person vote counts at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

In District 9, Gazelka cruised to victory over attorney Richard Dahl with 4,631 votes to Dahl’s 912, or a 83.55% to 16.45% margin.

In District 10, Ruud dominated building contractor Shaun Christian Hansen to the tune of 4,098 to 892 votes, or 82.22% to 17.88%.


“It was good to see the vast majority of Republicans recognize I do represent the values they support. That’s clear by the margin,” Gazelka said during a phone interview Tuesday night. “I need to focus on all the (Senate) races across Minnesota. That was the only difficult thing about having your own primary, it's hard to focus on helping all the other senators win and that's my role as majority leader, so I'm glad this is behind me.”

The Dispatch reached out to Ruud, Dahl and Hansen, but did not receive responses by deadline.

Judging by the messages of their opponents, Tuesday’s primary was something of an attempted referendum on the Senate GOP’s handling of coronavirus, particularly the economic shutdown and Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers — of which, both issues came to the forefront of the inter-party election characterized by Dahl’s, and to a lesser extent, Hansen’s, criticism of Gazelka and Ruud’s recent tenure.

In turn, both Gazelka and Ruud rested their candidacies in a proven track record, while dismissing these criticisms as inaccurate, mischaracterizations born from ignorance of the legislative process and Minnesota statutes.

Now the voters have had their say and, after strong victories in the primaries, the consensus is that central Minnesota Republicans are comfortable with sending Gazelka and Ruud back for another four years in St. Paul.

The next hurdle is the Nov. 3 general election. In recent history, both senate districts have proven to be safe Republican strongholds. In District 9, Gazelka dominated DFL candidate Jason Weinerman by 71.26% to 28.74% in 2016, and first got elected to office on another strong win by 53.7% to 46.3% over DFLer Al Doty in 2012. In District 10, Ruud handily won over DFL candidates Tiffany Stenglein by a margin of 64.39% over 35.61% in 2016, and Taylor Stevenson by 54% to 46% in 2012.

GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at or 218-855-5859. Follow at .


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