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Dahle, Bly Return to the Legislature; Malecha, Gillen Re-elected to County Board

DFLer David Bly beat Republican Brian Wermerskirchen 57 percent to 43 percent in the House District 20B race. DFLer Kevin Dahle narrowly defeated Republican Mike Dudley.

UPDATED: 8:15 a.m. Wednesday

Editor's note: The full update on the Dahle, Dudley race can be found here.


Northfield's David Bly and Kevin Dahle are heading back to St. Paul.

Bly, who lost a re-election bid to the Minnesota House in 2010 by 37 votes, beat Republican Brian Wermerskirchen 57 percent to 43 percent on Tuesday in the House District 20B race.

Dahle's race was much closer, besting Republican Mike Dudley by 82 votes, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State's preliminary results, which were updated at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Around 1 a.m., MPR and WCCO reported that Dahle had won by 332 votes (20,361 to 20,029).

Because the the new vote totals are within one-half of 1 percent of each other (50.04 percent for Dahle and 49.84 percent for Dudley), an automatic recount will occur, according to Minnesota statute.

However, according to statute, a losing candidate may waive a recount by filing a written notice of waiver with the canvassing board.

    Read the full update on this race here.

As for Tuesday night's excitement, Dahle said as the night dragged on he and his supporters thought a win was within reach, but didn't know for sure until WCCO reported what was thought to be final preliminary numbers just before 1 a.m. Wednesday.

When those numbers were announced, the group of 20 or so people at Carbone's Pizza & Sports Bar erupted into cheer, quickly followed by Dahle embracing every person there and thanking them.

"We are winners," Dahle said enthusiastically to his group. "We are going to represent Senate District 20! ... I don't feel great for myself. I feel great for everyone who came and volunteered and helped."

Dahle, as an incumbent senator, lost a close race in 2010 to Republican Al DeKruif in what was then known as Senate District 25.

"It feels so much better to win an election," he told Patch. "I never thought it'd be that close. It's really a tough district."

Shawn Groth, chair of the Rice County DFL Party and Senate District 20 DFL, said he thought Bly could pull out the win, but expected a tight race between Dahle and Dudley.

"I'm ecstatic that we have both David and Kevin back in the Legislature," he said. "And we'll work on keeping them there."

In the Rice County Board of Commissioner races, incumbent Galen Malecha won District 2 with nearly 61 percent of the vote. His challenger, Jeff Quinnell, received 38.56 percent of the vote. In District 1, incumbent Jake Gillen received 54.83 percent of the vote, besting challenger Kathleen Doran-Norton who received 44.83 percent of the vote. David Miller beat Carol King to be the new commissioner in District 3. Steve Bauer was unopposed in District 4. Incumbent Jeff Docken was re-elected to represent District 5 with 51.46 percent of the vote, beating Richard Cook.

In the Senate District 58 race, which includes the Northfield precinct in Dakota County, Republican Dave Thompson bested DFLer Andrew Brobston with 57.60 of the vote. Republican Pat Garofalo beat DFLer Jim Arlt nearly 60 percent of the vote in the House District 58B race.

All winners will be sworn into their respective offices in January.

The results are unofficial until verified by the canvassing boards.

You can also visit other pages on Northfield Patch to see:

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* Denotes incumbent | Results are unofficial and updated as of 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012

Rice County District 1

Precincts reporting: 11/11

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Kathleen Doran-Norton
2,377 44.83 Jake Gillen* 2,907 54.83 Write-in 18 0.34

Rice County District 2

Precincts reporting: 5/5

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Galen Malecha*
3,712 60.85 Jeff Quinnell 2,352 38.56 36 36 0.59

Rice County District 3

Precincts reporting: 2/2

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Carol King 1,460 35.01 David Miller 2,689 64.48

Rice County District 4

Precincts reporting: 3/3

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Steve Bauer*
4,100 98.65 Write-in 56 1.35

Rice County District 5

Precincts reporting: 10/10

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Richard Cook
3,125 48.02 Jeff Docken* 3,349 51.46 Write-in 34 0.52

Senate District 20

Precincts reporting: 46/46

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Kevin Dahle (D)
20,628 50.04 Mike Dudley (R) 20,546 49.84 Write-in 53 .013

House District 20B

Precincts reporting: 25/25

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes David Bly (D)
11,700 56.91 Brian Wermerskirchen (R) 8,839 42.99 Write-in 20 0.10

Senate District 58

Precincts reporting: 39/39

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Andrew Brobston (D)
17,684 42.28
Dave Thompson (R) 24,094 57.60
Write-in 49 0.12

House District 58B

Precincts reporting: 27/27

Candidate Number of votes Percentage of votes Jim Arlt (D)
8,510
40.44
Pat Garofalo (R) 12,517
59.47
Write-in 19 0.09

All results were obtained from the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.

A look back at the 'split' district

This year, Minnesota's DFL party is looking to gain six seats to retake control of the Minnesota House and four seats to regain control of the Senate. Currently, the GOP has a 72–62 majority in the House and a 37-30 majority in the Senate.

If there's anything to know about Northfield and its legislative districts, they always make for close races each election cycle. Northfield traditionally leans heavily for DFL candidates, while the rest of the district—mostly rural—has supported Republican candidates.

This year, with Northfield belonging to a new district in Senate District 20, Northfield's DFLers Kevin Dahle and David Bly, running in House District 20B, look to regain a spot in the Minnesota Legislature. They face Republicans Mike Dudley and Lonsdale's Brian Wermerskirchen, respectively. 

Republican Al DeKruif unseated incumbent Dahle in 2010 with 44.66 percent of the vote in what was then Senate District 25. Dahle collected 42.07 percent of the vote while Independent John A. Grimm garnered 13.21 percent of the vote.

Republican Kelby Woodard narrowly defeated incumbent Bly in 2010 in what was then House District 25B. After a recount of nearly 18,000 votes, Woodward won by 37 votes.

Two years earlier, Democrats were riding a wave of liberal strength, buoyed by soon-to-be President Barack Obama. Bly retained his seat with 53.33 of the vote against Republican Tim Rud that year. In 2006, Bly beat Republican Ray Cox by 60 votes.


Rice County races

Incumbent Galen Malecha is seeking his third term as a Rice County Commissioner representing District 2, which encompasses all but two of Northfield's seven precincts in the county (one other precinct is in Dakota County). This year, he faces Jeff Quinnell.

In 2010, Malecha defeated Dan Freeman with more than 54 percent of the vote. In 2006, with nearly 4,100 votes cast, he defeated Betsey Buckheit by nine votes.

Commissioner Steve Bauer, like this year, ran unopposed in 2010 and 2006.

In 2008, Jake Gillen won a second term by defeating Matt Drevlow with 52 percent of the vote. Jeff Docken won his first term with nearly 66 percent of the vote.

This year, Gillen faces Kathleen Doran-Norton and Docken faces retired Rice County Sheriff Richard Cook.

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