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Kari Dziedzic won a hard-fought victory Tuesday night in the DFL primary to replace state Sen. Larry Pogemiller in eastern Minneapolis.
Dziedzic's victory ended a primary race that drew more attention and serious challengers than any of the three other special elections in Minneapolis this year. Pogemiller's departure this fall to head the state's Office of Higher Education sent a slew of candidates vying for his seat, most carrying name recognition or high-profile endorsements.
Dziedzic, a policy aide to Hennepin Commissioner Mark Stenglein, pulled away with 32 percent of the vote in the five-person race. That was only 6 points ahead of political newcomer Mohamud Noor -- a Somali candidate who drew hundreds of voters to the polls in the Cedar-Riverside area in support of his campaign.
The general election is set for Jan. 10, but Tuesday's DFL primary will hold a lot of weight in the traditionally left-leaning Minneapolis district, encompassing Northeast, the University of Minnesota, Como and Prospect Park.
Dziedzic, whose father served for 20 years on the Minneapolis City Council, had collected the most support among unions and elected officials. She also led in fundraising.
But Noor, a former employee of the Department of Human Services, was not far behind, getting endorsements from TakeAction Minnesota, Stonewall DFL and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. He would have been the first Somali elected to the Legislature.
His second-place finish was marked by a dramatic turnout from the city's Somali community. More than 500 voters cast their ballots for Noor in the precinct surrounding the Riverside Plaza apartment complex. That was about 95 percent of all votes cast in that precinct. No other precinct turned out more voters.
Other candidates, such as Peter Wagenius, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's policy aide, and Paul Ostrow, a former City Council president, are well-known commodities around City Hall. Ostrow is now an assistant Anoka County attorney.
Jacob Frey, a Minneapolis attorney, entered the race with little name recognition but snagged the endorsement of the National Organization for Women.
Republican Ben Schwanke, who was unchallenged for his party's nomination, will go head-to-head against Dziedzic in the January general election.
It wasn't the city's only primary on Tuesday. In the Powderhorn and Bryant neighborhoods, voters chose attorney Susan Allen for the DFL nomination. She beat Paul Dennis, the only other candidate still actively campaigning, although other candidates remained on the ballot.
Allen will face off against independent candidate Nathan Blumenshine in the Jan. 10 general election.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper