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Schoen wins Senate District 54 seat

Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul park, beat Republican Leilani Holmstadt of Cottage Grove. (RiverTown Multimedia illustration)1 / 2
Dan Schoen2 / 2

For Dan Schoen, the 2016 election had a similar outcome to 2014: He won, but his party lost.

Schoen will move from the Minnesota House to the Senate after winning the open District 54 seat Nov. 8, but he’ll be in a caucus that just lost the majority.

Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, topped Republican Leilani Holmstadt 53-47 percent. He tallied 22,162 votes to Holmstadt’s 19,480.

Republicans Keith Franke and Tony Jurgens captured the House District 54A and 54B seats, respectively.

Schoen called each man his friend, but said they’ll have to carry weight for District 54 because the GOP will lead the House and his party will not control legislation in the Senate.

“Now Keith and Tony are going to have to step up to the plate,” Schoen said. “They’re in the majority and they’re going to have to deliver for this district.”

Schoen served the past four years in the House, representing District 54A, the northern and western half of the Senate district. He said he faced a new challenge in campaigning in the southern and eastern areas of the Senate district because he did not have the name familiarity that longtime lawmakers Katie Sieben and Denny McNamara have. Schoen was running to replace Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, who was in the Senate since 2007.

Schoen said he tried to get known out in the district. Still, he said of the results: “It came out pretty close to where I expected it.”

A Cottage Grove police officer, Schoen gained attention in the House for his work on some gun legislation, such as a push for broader background checks; a new law meant to curb opioid overdoses; and the state’s legalization of medical marijuana.

As Schoen ran in his third legislative race, Holmstadt was making her first run for the Legislature. The one-time school board candidate campaign on a smaller-government, pro-Second Amendment agenda.

Senate District 54 includes Cottage Grove, Hastings, St. Paul Park, Newport, Hastings, Afton and part of South St. Paul. Also in the district are Grey Cloud Island, Denmark and Nininger townships.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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