Special elections leave state House partisan split steady; former Rep. Quist won't return
February 12, 2013 — 11:35pm
Voters in two special legislative elections on Tuesday kept the partisan split of the Minnesota House steady, replacing a Republican with a Republican and a Democrat with a Democrat.
DFLer Clark P. Johnson will replace retired Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter. Johnson earned 54 percent of the vote to Republican Allen Quist's 36 percent with the Independence Party's Tim Gieseke pulling in 10 percent . Quist served in the Minnesota House in the 1980s, vied for governor twice in the 1990s and ran against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz last year.
Republican Tama Theis will replace retired Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud. Theis garnered 55 percent of the vote to Democrat Joanne Dorsher's 43 percent. The Independence Party's candidate garnered three percent in that race.
The two February elections had starkly low turnout. In November about 17,000 people voted in the St. Peter area district and about 19,000 voted in the St. Cloud race. Tuesday, fewer than 5,000 people voted in each.
Both Morrow and Gottwalt stepped down from the Legislature shortly after they were re-elected last year to take new jobs.
A Duluth native who just barely lost Virginia's GOP gubernatorial primary said that politicians have not gone far enough in condemning the left for violence during a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville. "I think that the left is going to try to use this as an excuse to crack down on conservative free speech," said Corey Stewart. "I think they're going to try to use this as an excuse to remove more historical monuments."