UPDATED: Candidates Respond to Primary, Low Turnout in Mendota Heights, West St. Paul Area
Tuesday's primary wasn't a big draw for voters in House District 52A.
Editor's Note: This post was updated at 3 p.m. Wednesday with the comments of Rep. Rick Hansen.
Though statistically Mendota beat the pack with about 20 percent voter turnout—22 votes in the House District 52A race—City Clerk Jennifer Bruestle said she wished she'd brought a board game.
Voter turnout in all of District 52A hovered around 11 percent for Tuesday's primary, where Republican Joe Blum was chosen as the candidate to run against Rep. Rick Hansen (D-South St. Paul).
Republican primary candidate David Meisinger contacted Blum Wednesday morning to extend his congratulations.
“I’m disappointed,” said Meisinger, “but I’m actually more disappointed that we had such a low turnout.”
Of 23,580 registered voters in the House district, 2,552 voted in the state House race, according to the Secretary of State.
The vote tallies themselves were close, with Blum winning 704 votes to Meisinger’s 606.
Blum extended his thanks to Meisinger.
“He put forth a great effort and I hope I can win his support in November,” said Blum.
Blum, an operations manager and scout for the Maple Grove Energy Junior A hockey team, will have his work cut out for him.
Hansen is in his fourth term as representative, having been elected for the first time in 2004. That was also the last time the Mendota Heights area's House district was on a primary ballot. Voter turnout for the primary in 2004 was about 24 percent.
Hansen received 1,242 votes on Tuesday.
There was not a competitive DFL primary race on the ballot in Mendota Heights, where incumbent Amy Klobuchar handily put away three competitors for a shot at the U.S. Senate seat.
Primary Too Early?
Hansen blamed the low turnout on the early primary. This is the second year that Minnesota's primary has happened in August instead of September.
The Minnesota State Fair gives voters a chance to meet and interact with candidates, a great precurser to primaries scheduled after the start of school, said Hansen.
The primary was moved up to accomodate deployed and overseas voters, extending the length of the campaign season. Hansen said the state should be able to figure out how to return to a September primary and still include these voters.
"I think voters want shorter campaigns not longer campaigns, and even when you have contests all over the state ... turnout was very low, and I’m not surprised."