4 Withdraw from 11B House Race Following GOP Endorsement

4 Withdraw from 11B House Race Following GOP Endorsement

Updated: February 21, 2019 02:18 PM

Four Republicans have withdrawn from a crowded race for a vacant east-central Minnesota state House seat after the party endorsed a candidate Tuesday.

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The District 11B seat became vacant when Republican Rep. Jason Rarick was elected to Senate District 11, replacing DFL Sen. Tony Lourey after he was appointed state commissioner of human services.  The 11B seat covers all of Pine County and eastern Kanabec County.

Six Republicans and one Democrat filed by Tuesday's deadline to enter the race.  Then Tuesday evening, Nathan Nelson won the Republican endorsement.

"I'm so grateful to my friends and neighbors for trusting me with the Republican endorsement in the special election," Nelson said in a news release. "My roots are here in rural Minnesota — my family has lived in this area for more than 100 years, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to work hard on the rural priorities we all share.  I'm ready to work to make health care more affordable, protect the unborn, expand broadband, fix our roads and bridges, and more."

Nelson farms near Hinckley, is president of the Pine County Farm Bureau, and has been a supervisor on the Clover Township Board for nine years.

Republican candidates Traci LeBrun, Michael Cummins, Carl Pederson, and Joe Wolf withdrew from the race following Nelson's endorsement, but Ayrlahn Johnson remains in the race.  Johnson and Nelson will compete on March 5 primary election ballots.

The Republican primary winner will face DFL'er Tim Burkhardt in the March 19 special general election.  Burkhardt is a Hinckley City Council member and challenged Rarick in last fall's House election.

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