Constitution Party candidate triggers recount for MN House District 41B

Tim Utz
Tim Utz

A recount of election results for Minnesota House Congressional District 41B began at 9 a.m. at the Anoka County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 4, at the request of Constitution Party candidate Tim Utz.

Two and a half hours and three changed votes later, the recount reached its conclusion. The recount only looked at three precincts in the entire district -- two in Columbia Heights and one in Hilltop -- and resulted in two more votes for Utz, one more for Republican Camden Pike and three fewer for DFL incumbent Carolyn Laine. 

A total of 1,706 votes were cast in those three precincts, according to the Secretary of State's election results website. On Election Day, a grand total of 14,504 votes were tallied in the district, which is made up of Columbia Heights, Hilltop, parts of New Brighton and St. Anthony. 

Utz, who raised an estimated $2,100 to pay for the recount, garnered 13 percent of the vote last month, failing to top Laine, who received 57 percent of the vote. Challenger Pike received 29 percent of the vote.

Utz, who in the past has run as both a Republican and a Constitution Party candidate for the seat, said in an email release he initiated the recount process because of inconsistencies between post-election door-to-door vote canvassing and official results in Hilltop.

"The purpose of our recount efforts was validating the post-Election Day door-to-door canvas recount or validating Election Day count," Utz wrote. "There was never an attempt to change the election results."

State statute requires candidates filing for a recount to choose a minimum of three precincts, Utz wrote.

Utz added that "generous citizens outside the campaign" donated the money that paid for the recount.

A spokesperson from the Office of Secretary of State said the $2,100 Utz paid for the recount covered all costs associated with it, adding that Utz requested it Dec. 1.

Reached for comment the morning of the recount, Laine called the recount "curious."

"I don't understand the need for it, but certainly it's Tim Utz's choice to do such a thing, he's paying for it," Laine said. "He thought more people were going to vote for him."

The spokesperson from the Office of Secretary of State said that recounts at the state level are very rare, the last being a primary recount in Senate District 16 in 2008. 

--Mike Munzenrider

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