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No 3A rematch in 2024

Former State Rep. Rob Ecklund says he won’t try to regain House seat


by Tom Coombe

There seemingly won’t be a rematch of the region’s tightest state legislative race.

In a social media post, former State Rep. Rob Ecklund (D-International Falls) said that he won’t seek to regain the Minnesota House of Representatives seat he lost a year ago to Ely’s Roger Skraba.

Skraba unseated Ecklund, a seven-year incumbent, by a mere 13 votes in 2022.

Many political observers figured the two would be in for a rematch next year, but Ecklund doused that speculation in a post made on Facebook over the weekend.

“Last spring I was asked the question by many folks if I was going to run for District 3A representative again, and my response to everyone was I will let you know after summer is over,” Ecklund wrote. “Well, summer is over and I have decided that I will not run again. Holding the office of State Representative was and still is the honor of a lifetime, and I will always cherish my time serving my constituents and the State of Minnesota. It is time for me to enjoy retirement, my family and especially my grandchildren.”

Ecklund’s departure from the House District 3A race paves the way for a new Democrat to challenge Skraba, who is expected to seek re-election.

After several tries including previous attempts as a Democrat, Republican and a member of the Independence Party, Skraba broke through last year and upset Ecklund in  what was believed to be the closest state legislative race in Minnesota.

On the night of the election, totals swung back and forth with Skraba ahead slightly in initial returns and  Ecklund pulling ahead in the early-morning hours.

Totals from precincts in Itasca County, an area that was added to 3A in redistricting after the latest census, tilted Republican and gave Skraba just enough votes to take the lead.

The result, which amounted to a fraction of a percentage point, prompted Ecklund to seek a state-funded recount as provided by law.

The recount narrowed a 15-vote Skraba lead to 13, but nothing else changed and the three-time Ely mayor was seated in St. Paul earlier this year.

In 2015, Skraba lost as a Republican to Ecklund in a special election to fill a seat vacated by the death of longtime legislator David Dill (D).

Ecklund served until this year, surviving a strong challenge from Republican Tom Manninen in 2020 but unable to hold off Skraba two years later.

Ecklund was visible in St. Paul this year, working as a lobbyist for various groups.

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