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Stu Lourey wins Minnesota Senate District 11 DFL primary

Stu Lourey points out early results to supporter Paul Christensen at Lourey’s primary election gathering at Doc’s Sports Bar & Grill in Sturgeon Lake shortly after polls closed Tuesday. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Stu Lourey edged out Michelle Lee in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary Tuesday for the Minnesota Senate District 11 seat.

Lourey won 53.24 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results reported by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. Senate District 11 includes precincts throughout Carlton and Pine counties and parts of St. Louis and Kanabec counties. The seat was recently vacated by Tony Lourey after he joined the new cabinet of Gov. Tim Walz as commissioner of the state Department of Human Services.

“We are absolutely humbled by the support that we received from across the district and folks coming out and making their voices heard on this cold January day,” Stu Lourey said. “Most of all we are looking forward to these next couple of weeks of having conversations at the doors, on the phones with voters and families about the issues that matter here.”

Those issues, according to Lourey, are access to affordable health care, fair funding for public schools, quality affordable housing and broadband internet access.

Jason RarickLourey will face Republican candidate Jason Rarick and Legal Marijuana Now candidate John “Sparky” Birrenbach during a special general election Feb. 5, two weeks from now.

“There’s no time to rest. We’re going to be working around the clock and mobilizing our supporters to do the same because this is so important and there is no time to waste,” Lourey said. “We have a lot of folks to reach and a lot of folks to talk to about how important this election is and what’s at stake and how important it is that we have a strong voice in this region in St. Paul that represents the values of the district. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks.”

Rarick currently represents District 11B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes portions of Kanabec and Pine counties. Rarick won Republican endorsement earlier this month, and seemingly has been waiting on the sidelines while Michelle Lee and Stu Lourey campaigned in the DFL primary.

“We weren’t worried about who we were going to face. We’ve just been running our campaign believing that I’m the one who best represents the values of the district,” Rarick said. “It will be a good two-week race and I’m looking forward to being out and about talking to as many people as possible.”

Michelle Lee watches election results with Brandon Shofner (left) and Benjamin Carollo. Steve Kuchera / DNT

Lourey was able to edge out Lee with just 235 more votes.

“I want to thank Michelle for bringing her voice and perspective to this campaign and mobilizing so many volunteers and voters and for running an issues driven campaign,” Lourey said.

Lee had won the DFL endorsement on Saturday during a convention held in Barnum, but failed to receive the nomination Tuesday. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Minnesota DFL party chairman Ken Martin said in a statement that Lourey has deep ties to the area and shares a strong bond with its residents and will be incredibly valuable in the legislature.

“I’ve known Stu Lourey for years and know him as a brilliant and engaged leader and I’m confident that on Feb. 5, voters will show the state of Minnesota that (they) believe Stu is the best candidate to represent Senate District 11,” Martin wrote.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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