Rep. Dale Walz, R-Brainerd, won his first bid for re-election to the House District 12A seat in Tuesday's election with a 9,161-6,945 victory over DFL candidate Lucy Nesheim.
"It was a tough fight," Walz said early today. "When I ran two years ago I didn't have anything to lose. Her campaign didn't do anything negative and neither did I. Lucy was a good opponent."
Walz, a Baxter police officer who took a leave of absence when he went to the Legislature, told people that if he lost his legislative bid he still had his "real job" as a law officer.
Walz said Minnesota's new governor, Rep. Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, is a personable politician whom other lawmakers like to kid about his love of hockey and rock and roll.
"They give him a lot of guff," Walz said.
Nesheim, the Brainerd City Council president, said the legislative race was a great education and she learned a lot about education and economic development.
"I think it's been a wonderful experience," she said early today. "I have met a lot of wonderful people and I think that will help me as I continue my term on the Brainerd City Council."
She thanked her campaign volunteers and said her appreciation for the Brainerd city employees grew as she traveled throughout the district.
"It's a disappointment but actually it's a Republican sweep," she said. "I think the repercussions of the events affected a lot of races."
She said a backlash reaction from people who were not pleased with the late Sen. Paul Wellstone memorial service probably played a role in state races and possibly had an impact on her race.
Walz said that in his first bid for the Legislature in 1998, he lost to Rep. Kris Hasskamp but garnered about 46 percent of the vote. He defeated her in 2000.
Walz said he watched Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe deliver his concession speech and noted the DFLer had fought a tough fight and was concluding 32 years of public service.
"Nothing's ever taken for granted," Walz said, reflecting on politics.
The Minnesota Secretary of State's office reported an 80.33 percent voter turnout in this race.
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