■ Voters send Ward back to the House
Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, beat Republican challenger Chris Kellett Tuesday gaining 56.88 percent of the vote compared to Kellett’s 42.88 percent.
Ward, 62, garnered 11,789 votes. Kellett gained 8,872. There were 28 write-ins. House District 10A, drawn up after the 2010 census, includes Brainerd, Baxter and much of the western edge of Crow Wing County.
Ward won all the precincts in Brainerd and Baxter — and the more populous Red, White and Blue precincts of Unorganized Territory, which are just outside the two cities. Ward has represented Crow Wing County for six years. But he said with the redistricting, which meant all House and Senate lawmakers were running for re-election and lines redrawn, he had the challenge of making himself known to new constituents.
“So it was kind of like starting all over again,” Ward said in the early morning hours Wednesday at the DFL celebration site at The Brainerd Hotel and Conference Center on the city’s south side.
A political newcomer, Kellett, 45, won the Republican endorsement after beating Kurt Martin on the first ballot. Kellett, Brainerd, owns Bridge-Light Marketing and Web Design. Kellett responded in an email Wednesday afternoon, which she also sent to supporters thanking them for their efforts.
“We can hold our heads high,” Kellett wrote. “We ran a positive campaign that was honest and one that we can be proud of.”
Ward won 20 of 27 precincts for the victory. The incumbent had the majority votes in Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, and the townships of Center, Lake Edward and Mission. Kellett had the majority votes in Breezy Point, the city and township of Jenkins, and townships of Pelican, Ideal and Gail Lake.
In the tiny Crow Wing Township Precinct 2, Kellett had four votes to Ward’s three. During a victory speech Wednesday morning, Ward stood at the podium with fellow DFLers — newly elected 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan, who beat incumbent Chip Cravaack, and newcomer Joe Radinovich, 26, who narrowly beat Republican Dale Lueck for the House 10B seat.
With this election, the DFL regained control of the Minnesota House. Ward told those gathered in Brainerd they were going to compromise.
“We’re going to work together and have a thing called progress,” Ward said.
Following his remarks to the crowd, Ward said he thought a desire by voters to elect someone who would be willing to compromise, work together and move forward not backward was the difference in the campaign.
“To have progress in our state of Minnesota, not government shutdown, not gridlock,” Ward said. “Let’s get things done for the citizens in the state of Minnesota and have Minnesota once again become a great, great state in our nation as we have in the past when we worked together and compromised. I really believe people were looking for that.”
Ward said the campaign talked about issues important to people — jobs and the economy, education, fair taxation, re-establishing the market value homestead credit to lower property taxes, environmental concerns and health care access.
“We talked a lot about the issues that people want and expect out of their elected officials to work on and move forward,” Ward said. “So to me that is what the difference is all about.”
Ward thanked all the people who worked on the campaign so he could go out and represent and serve the constituents.
“I’ve been really honored and blessed and proud to represent all the people in this area,” Ward said. “I’ve listened to all. I’ve worked hard for all, no matter if they supported me or not and I’ll continue to do that.”