Updated at 3:03 p.m. Wednesday
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated Bob Loonan conceded the race. He has not issued a formal concession as of Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota House District 55A Republican candidate Erik Mortensen won Tuesday’s primary against former House Rep. Bob Loonan by a 10 percent margin with 55% of the vote.
Mortensen and Rep. Brad Tabke, a Democrat, will now face off in November in a rematch of the 2018 election for the House District 55A seat. House District 55A emcompasses the city of Shakopee, along with Louisville and Jackson Townships.
“It was clear that voters believe in the message of stopping the career politicians and the political gamesmanship like we’ve had representing us for years,” Mortensen said in a press release Wednesday morning. “We know we can’t send people to St. Paul to just be button-pushers for the political establishment. While Bob and I have had our differences, now it’s time for Republicans to unite together to beat the Democrat, Brad Tabke.”
Mortensen called Tabke “the poster child for an anti-business representative” for supporting Gov. Tim Walz’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus by placing restrictions on business operations and capacities.
In June, Tabke voted in favor of a bill containing more than $62 million in relief for businesses struggling to stay above water in the pandemic. In May, Tabke pushed back on the governor’s plans to limit restaurant seating to outdoor areas, saying the plan did not meet Shakopee’s needs and requesting the governor allow more indoor capacity for restaurants and salons.
Loonan issued a statement to the Shakopean Tuesday night saying he is proud of the campaign he ran.
“The voters have spoken, and I respect that decision. We worked hard to keep (our campaign) clean even when that meant it would be much more difficult to win,” Loonan said. “While I am disappointed with the result, I am encouraged by the people I have encountered. This is a Republican district, and I hope that we return those same conservative values to St. Paul.”
Loonan paid homage to the Shakopee community members he met while campaigning in recent weeks and to the struggles they shared with him: “Someone asked me, ‘Where have all the good people gone?’ Well I can tell you, for I have been talking with them for months. They are young parents balancing work and parenting, but realizing they have one shot at raising their children. They are senior citizens, cautiously navigating all the unknown risks that seem everywhere, but doing it with hope. They are teachers dedicated to their students but have a family member with an underlying health condition. And they are people who believe what they are told, because they are good people who cannot believe others would willingly lie. Good people are all around all of us. I hope the general election will be about those people.”
Mortensen also bested Loonan in the 2018 primary by a 15-percent margin with 1,727 votes to Loonan’s 1,263 votes. Mortensen went on to lose against Tabke by a 602-vote, 3% margin in the 2018 general election.
“Congratulations to Erik on his campaign’s primary victory,” Tabke said. “Our campaign looks forward to the upcoming debate focused on our shared values and giving Shakopee residents a clear choice on who they want representing them in St. Paul.”
Tabke went on to say he believes this moment in history “requires the proven, steady leadership I have been honored to provide our community as your state representative.”
As an unchallenged Democrat on the primary ballot, Tabke received 1,969 votes. Unchallenged Legal Marijuana Now candidate Ryan Martin received 36 votes.
As of Tuesday night, voter turnout looked to be just over 20.6% of the 24,320 registered voters in House District 55A. Absentee ballots received through Thursday, the day before the county canvass, will still be counted, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State website.
In the 2018 primary, 22.6% of 22,621 registered voters in House District 55A voted.