Republican Anne Neu will represent Chisago County in an open Minnesota House seat following her victory in a closely watched special election on Tuesday.
Neu took 53 percent of the vote in the House District 32B race, while DFLer Laurie Warner took 47 percent. The seat has been vacant since September, when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that GOP Rep. Bob Barrett, who was seeking re-election, did not live in the district.
Neu, 42, will be serving in elected office for the first time. But she is already well-known in Minnesota politics, having run a number of Republican campaigns, including managing Chip Cravaack's congressional victory against former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010. She also served on the North Branch Planning Commission.
While Warner's campaign attracted attention and support from Democrats around Minnesota and across the country, Neu said she was confident that her conservative positions lined up with a large number of voters. Chisago County voters picked President Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 30-point margin, and also backed Stewart Mills, the GOP candidate who sought unsuccessfully to represent the area in Congress.
A recent widow, Neu is a home-school mom to her five children. She lives in North Branch, and had spoken to voters about expanding public funding for students at public, private and charter schools and campaigned against abortion and for lower taxes. She also supports abolishing MNsure, the state's health insurance marketplace.
In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Neu said she was "eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work with my House colleagues working to make healthcare more affordable, cut taxes for families, and build a budget that respects Minnesota taxpayers."
Both candidates received endorsements and campaign-trail support from big names in Minnesota politics, including leaders in the Legislature and members of Congress.
Warner, 62, continued a campaign she began in 2016, when she was running against Barrett. In the last weeks of the campaign, DFLers turned out in large numbers to help the former Duluth City Council member and longtime labor union staff member in her bid for the Legislature.
By the Friday before the election, Warner said, her campaign had made 25,000 attempts to connect with voters. She focused on issues like funding for public education and expanded broadband.
Before the votes were counted Tuesday, Warner said she was proud of the efforts of the people who had supported her campaign. Win or lose, she said, it is clear people dissatisfied by the results of the November election are prepared to push back at the polls.
"We've had an outpouring of support, know that regardless of the outcome, we've got a momentum going," she said. "I really believe people aren't going to give up."
Neu said before Tuesday's vote that getting people out to the polls was crucial.
"It's all about turnout," she said. "We have more voters on our side, on the conservative side. ... so I'm cautiously optimistic."