American Indian wins vacated state House seat in Minneapolis

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2012 - 11:44 PM

Minneapolis voters elected the first American Indian woman to the Legislature on Tuesday night in the latest of several special elections.

DFL attorney Susan Allen garnered 56 percent of the vote in a contest against Respect candidate Nathan Blumenshine in south Minneapolis, who finished second with 43 percent. They were vying for the House seat vacated by former Rep. Jeff Hayden, now a state senator.

The south Minneapolis House district reaches into the Powderhorn Park, Bryant, Lyndale, Kingfield, Field, Regina and Central neighborhoods.

It was one of two special elections in Minneapolis on Tuesday. The other victor was DFLer Kari Dziedzic, who beat Republican Ben Schwanke for the state Senate seat vacated last year by Larry Pogemiller.

Dziedzic won 79 percent of the vote in the Senate district, encompassing Northeast, the University of Minnesota, Cedar-Riverside, Como and Prospect Park areas. Schwanke took in 19 percent.

Nine American Indians have served at the Legislature, although six entered office when Minnesota was still a territory. Since 1933, only three American Indians have served at the State Capitol, none of them women.

Allen said at a recent candidate forum that growing up on reservations at a time of major social change for American Indians shaped her views.

"By the time I was 11 years old, I knew I wanted to be an attorney and that I wanted to work for social and economic justice," Allen said.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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