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And now the voters decide

Set an alarm on your cell phone, circle the date on your calendar, just don’t forget to cast your ballot in Tuesday’s special primary election. It’s time for the voters to have their say.
We’ve been watching the race to fill the seat last held by David Dill with great interest. But we don’t know who will have their name on top when the keys are turn on the ballot counters Tuesday night.
Here’s the field of DFL candidates in case you’ve been out in the BWCA for the past year:
• Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund
• Tofte canoe outfitter Bill Hansen
• International Falls’ businessman Eric Johnson
• Ely council member Heidi Omerza
Also on the ballot will be former Ely mayor and current Republican Roger Skraba. This is a primary election so each of the two major political parties are represented. It’s no secret Skraba’s name is there in case Hansen wins the primary.
For the anti-mining movement, be it from Ely or downstate, the chance to get Dill’s seat has the money rolling in to Hansen’s coffers.
Hansen has raised just under $33,000, more than the other three DFLers combined.
Ecklund was at $12,000, including a $5,000 personal loan to his own campaign.
Johnson was at $7,000 including a $4,000 personal loan.
Omerza had pulled in just under $3,000 as of the filing date.
But money doesn’t always buy elections in Northeastern Minnesota. The only thing that guarantees a victory is the most votes come Tuesday night.
There’s been plenty of newspaper ads, some lawn signs, a few billboards and even ads purchased on Facebook. By the way, it’s always amusing when Facebook reports one candidate “likes” another candidate’s Facebook page.
This race may or may not go down in the history books, but if it does, here’s some side notes that should be included.
The DFL party first announced it was going to hold an endorsing convention and it was going to be held in Ely.
Then, days later, the party announced there wouldn’t be an endorsement. There was plenty of howling from at least one of the candidates but the decision stuck and there was no endorsement.
The short timeline was cited as a reason for cancelling the endorsement but it was one of the state’s top Democrats who played a key role in the timeline.
We understood why Gov. Mark Dayton waited until after the funeral to announce the special election, but what didn’t make sense is why he waited so long after the funeral.
There will be a winner Tuesday night and plenty of “I told you that’s who was going to win” going around Wednesday.
But will this race actually be over then? It’s safe to say if Hansen wins, all bets are off for the general election Dec. 8.
The Republicans will likely see this as a one-time opportunity to steal a seat on the Iron Range. And how will the DFL’s Range Delegation respond if the primary winner is the anti-mining candidate?
Then there’s the wild card - the seemingly out of nowhere, independent candidate Kelsey Johnson who joined the contest out of the blue.
House District 3A is the largest geographical district in Minnesota, stretching from the Grand Marais area to International Falls, and including Ely, the surrounding townships, Tower, Soudan, Babbitt, Cook, Orr and Silver Bay.
Okay voters, do your duty and get us started on finding out who will hold the late David Dill’s seat.
Oh, and this is just a one year deal. We’ll do this all over again next year.

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