Sundin wins DFL race for District 11AThe Democratic-Farmer-Labor party and its voters stand united in Carlton County. Voters in Tuesday’s primary election chose Mike Sundin – who was already the DFL-endorsed candidate – over Bruce Ahlgren for the right to represent the DFL party in the race for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 11A in the November general election.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party and its voters stand united in Carlton County.
Voters in Tuesday’s primary election chose Mike Sundin – who was already the DFL-endorsed candidate – over Bruce Ahlgren for the right to represent the DFL party in the race for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 11A in the November general election. The newly formed District 11A includes all of Carlton County, plus Brevator, Culver, Stoneybrook and Arrowhead townships in St. Louis County and Windemere and Kerrick townships in Pine County.
The Minnesota Secretary of State website put the final vote tally at 2,365 (57.5 percent) for Sundin and 1,743 (42.5 percent) for Ahlgren, a difference of 622 votes. Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert said Sundin had 2,111 votes in Carlton County, compared to 1,601 for Bruce Ahlgren.
Sundin will face Republican candidate Jim Putnam and Independence Party candidate Cory Pylkka in November for the newly formed Minnesota House seat. Both Putnam and Pylkka were unopposed in the primary.
Sundin credited his campaign message of a “working family’s agenda” for his greater appeal to DFL voters.
“We need to look at a fair and progressive tax program, and restoration of the homestead tax credit,” he said.
Ahlgren said he was “disappointed” in the result, but wished Sundin well in the November election.
“Low voter turnout, I think, doomed a lot of people,” said Ahlgren. “I don’t think Minnesotans want an August 14 primary.”
Sundin, 54, is currently employed as a business market development consultant by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82. A 34-year member of Painter and Allied Trades Local 106, Sundin has served on the Labor World Board of Directors since 2003. Described as a “party workhorse” in the endorsement announcement, Sundin has been a DFL activist for more than 35 years and chaired the Carlton County DFL for eight years. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Sundin also served on the Cloquet School Board for five years before moving to Esko.
Ahlgren has two years left on his most recent term as mayor of Cloquet and was recently elected to serve as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, so he will still be making trips to St. Paul to advocate for issues near and dear to outstate cities.
However, he added, he will not run for another term as mayor of Cloquet when this term is finished.
A happy Sundin expressed appreciation for his excellent campaign committee and the efforts of organized labor in Carlton County.
“I have an excellent committee,” he said. “Lots of energy, people from all walks of life ¬– teachers, construction workers, journalists, librarians – giving me information and input. And so many of the organized labor entities in Carlton County helped turn out the working family vote. That was critical.”
A total of 4,524 people voted in the primary election in Carlton County, Gassert said, estimating turnout at about 24 percent of registered voters. He said the state would likely put turnout at closer to 20 percent because state figures include everyone of voting age, not just registered voters.
“We haven’t really had a comparable primary,” he said. “Although it was the first open house seat for a new district, we also didn’t have any local races for school board or county commissioner. If we had [been voting on more local races], I have no doubt the voter turnout would have been higher.”