Recount next in 3A race
by Tom Coombe
The state’s closest state legislative race isn’t over yet.
Although Ely’s Roger Skraba eked out a 15-vote win to apparently unseat State Rep. Rob Ecklund (D) in House District 3A, a December recount looms.
Ecklund confirmed this week he’ll seek a recount once Skraba’s victory is certified Nov. 29, but he conceded “I’m not holding my breath” that another count will change the result.
“I’m always hopeful, and I think I’ve done a good job representing the district over the years and it’s something I still want to do, but I’m also realistic,” said Ecklund, an International Falls DFLer who has served since winning a special election in 2015.
“We’ve got a terrific system in the state of Minnesota and we don’t make many mistakes,” said Ecklund.
Skraba, who appears to be headed to St. Paul after his fourth try at state office, has predicted the recount will reaffirm his narrow win.
“I think I’ve been successful in my bid,” he told fellow council members in Ely earlier this month.
Skraba added that “I have looked back in many years (of recounts) and they don’t move very much. What you guys do the day of election is pretty solid. It shows when you do recounts they rarely move.”
According to current totals, Skraba pulled out a victory with 10,868 votes, compared to 10,853 for Ecklund.
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, area that was added to 3A in redistricting after the latest census, tilted Republican and gave Skraba just enough votes to take the lead.
With an eye toward January and the start of the legislative session, Skraba has already participated in meetings with the House Republican caucus, which will be in the minority in 2023 with current totals showing a 70-64 edge for Democrats.
“Hopefully everything turns out and I represent this community and this district in the state legislature, and I look forward to it,” said Skraba.
The recount in 3A may be more cumbersome given the size of the district which spans from the North Shore to International Falls and includes precincts in five counties - St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Koochiching and Itasca.
“It really shouldn’t take that long,” said Ecklund. “The longest part may be getting the teams together, with it being five counties, there will be five teams observing the ballots being counted. It makes it tougher to schedule.”