by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter
Primary voters on Aug. 10 will decide which candidate advances to the November election in a number of contested area statehouse and congressional races.
In Chisago County, in House District 17B, voters will choose whether Republican Wyoming Mayor Sheldon Anderson or the endorsed Republican candidate Bob Barrett of Franconia Township will have the chance to run against Democrat Cindy Erickson of North Branch for the open House seat.
Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-North Branch, is not seeking reelection.
In the City of Blaine, voters will decided whether police officer and D.A.R.E. Instructor Zak Chelbeck or challenger Omar Merhi, a Ph.D. in kinesiology and human factors, will advance in House District 51A to take on first-term Republican lawmaker Rep. Tim Sanders.
While DFLer Chelbeck was born in Blaine, DFLer Merhi was born in Lebanon.
“I feel I have global experience,” said Merhi, explaining that Minnesota is caught up in globalization.
Merhi been actively door knocking the district.
“Amen to that, man,” he said when asked.
Chelbeck is the endorsed candidate.
In the southern metro, in House District 35B, former state representative Tom Rees is again challenging six-term incumbent Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, in a Republican primary contest.
Buesgens is the manager of the Emmer for Governor campaign.
Two area Senate primary races have caught statewide attention.
In Central Minnesota, in Senate District 12, Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, is facing a primary challenge from former House member, insurance agent Paul Gazelka of Brainerd.
Koering recently drew media attention when it became known that he had had dinner with a porn star whose mother lives in the area.
Koering insisted the incident was not newsworthy.
The race took another turn when it became known that the state Republican Party was digging for dirt on Koering, a sitting Republican lawmaker.
Back in the metro, in Senate District 50, Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, faces a primary challenge from former House member Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights.
In a highly unusual action, local Democrats stripped Chaudhary of his party endorsement and gave it to Goodwin.
This was after Chaudhary, serving his third term in the Senate, was reprimanded by Senate colleagues for late session actions he took on legislation impacting a lake on which he has a cabin.
“Democrats in this district are now united behind one candidate. I am honored they chose me,” said Goodwin in a release.
Later it became known the Chaudharys owed a large amount of taxes to the IRS — the senator explains the situation as resulting from employment difficulties faced by his wife.
In other closely watched primary contests, three main DFL gubernatorial candidates — former U..S. senator Mark Dayton, former House minority leader Matt Entenza, and DFL-endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher — take their race onto the Aug. 10 ballot.
The other DFL gubernatorial candidate is Peter Idusogie of Woodbury.
Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano faces several primary challengers: environmentalist Leslie Davis of Minneapolis, Bob Carney Jr., of Minneapolis, and frequent DFL candidate Ole’ Savior of Minneapolis.
Five Independence Party candidates are vying to run for governor.
Tom Horner, of Edina, is the endorsed candidate.
Challenging him are publisher Rob Hahn of St. Paul, Phil Ratte’, of Columbia Heights, John Uldrich, of Minneapolis, and Rahn Workcuff of Minneapolis.
In the Secretary of State race, frequent candidate Dick Franson of Minneapolis is challenging incumbent DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
In the attorney general’s race, Republican Sharon Anderson of St. Paul is challenging Republican-endorsed candidate Chris Barden.
Democrat Leo Meyer of Minneapolis is challenging incumbent DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson.
In the congressional races, in the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Tim Walz, of Mankato, is being challenged by Lars Johnson of Rochester.
In the 2nd District, former DFL state representative Shelley Madore of Apple Valley is challenging DFL-endorsed congressional candidate Dan Powers of Burnsville.
In the 6th District, Maureen Reed was challenging DFL-endorsed congressional candidate Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud, but dropped out of the race.
Still, Reed’s name will appear on the primary ballot.
In the 8th District, W.D. (Bill) Hamm of Bovey is challenging Rep. James Oberstar of Chisholm in the primary.