Two established local politicians tried Tuesday night to hold onto state legislative seats for their parties in special elections in Bloomington and the Anoka area. Only one succeeded.
In a narrow surprise victory, Republican Chad Anderson, a local real estate agent, defeated DFLer Andrew Carlson, a Bloomington City Council member, in Bloomington’s House District 50B. Anderson won 51 percent of the vote to Carlson’s 49 percent. Anderson succeeds longtime DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski, who stepped down in November and went to work for a lobbying firm.
Lenczewski had held the seat for the DFL since the 1998 election, and the Twin Cities’ largest suburb has trended Democratic during that time. But the House Republican campaign committee paid for a cable TV ad hitting Carlson over some of his City Council votes, accusing him of voting to raise property taxes.
In state Senate District 35, which includes parts of Anoka, Andover, Coon Rapids and Ramsey, longtime former GOP Rep. Jim Abeler easily beat his DFL opponent Roger Johnson, a college teacher.
They ran for the opening left by the September resignation of Republican Rep. Branden Petersen.
Coming into Tuesday, the races were not expected to alter the power balance in either the House, which Republicans control, or the DFL-led Senate.
Anoka has been proven friendly territory for Republicans in recent decades. Abeler, an Anoka chiropractor, was first elected to the House in 1998. He became well-known at the State Capitol for his colorful personality and moderate tendencies.
Abeler didn’t run for re-election in 2014, when he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. But he fought his way back last month by winning a special Republican primary even though his opponent had the party’s endorsement.