HCMC physician Matt Klein wins Senate 52 seat


Matt Klein

Regina Barr
 

In Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District race, Republican Jason Lewis received 47 percent of the votes. DFL candidate Angie Craig received 45 percent, while Independence Party candidate Paula Overby received roughly 8 percent.

It was a hard-fought, expensive race for the open seat in the 2nd District, which covers most of the southern Twin Cities suburbs. 

Lewis, a former radio talk show host, lives in Woodbury, which is outside the district. Members of the U.S. House are not required to live in the district they represent. 

Republican John Kline is retiring after serving in Congress since 2003.

A legislative seat long held by Democrats will remain in the “blue” column for the next four years. DFLer Matt Klein captured the open seat in state Senate District 52, beating Republican Mark Misukanis by more than 6,000 votes.

State Sen. James Metzen, a popular South St. Paul DFLer who died in July from cancer, had held the seat since 1987.

The 48-year-old Klein said he went to bed before the results even came in.

“I had a little trouble sleeping. I woke up around 3:30 in the morning and logged on to my computer and realized I won,” said Klein, a Mendota Heights resident. “It wasn’t your typical election night celebration.”

He is an internal medicine physician/hospitalist at Hennepin County Mendota Center in Minneapolis and a member of the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area School Board. He said providing information and guidance on health care issues will be one of his focuses in the Legislature.

Klein said he was humbled when he realized the Republicans made real gains in the county and state races. He said he takes that as a message of humility and that there needs to be healing and learning to reach across political barriers

Klein said when he started his bid for the state Senate, he felt it was very important to engage the community, even more important than winning.

Throughout the entire nine-month race, Klein said he thought he would be a member of the majority caucus, but instead he will be part of the minority. This will present different sorts of challenges.

“I expect being part of the minority I will be listening more than speaking, and maybe that’s not a bad thing,” Klein said.

As a first-time legislator, he said he will have a lot of learning to do. He added there was a clear message after Election Day that many voters weren’t satisfied with the direction things were going.

Klein predicted state legislators would be reassessing where they stand on issues. He added this also means working with people who don’t agree and finding solutions that work for Minnesotans.

Klein said a lot of people made sacrifices and went unseen during this race.

“My wife, Kris, and I are going to work very hard to earn that support they’ve given us to fill this office with integrity and with diligence and live up to the dedication they gave me,” Klein said.

House races

Longtime DFL incumbent Rick Hansen of South St. Paul easily held on to his House District 52A seat with over 63 percent of the votes, while his opponent, Republican Larry Sachi, received roughly 37 percent.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Regina Barr earned about 50 percent of the votes to beat out DFLer Mary T’Kach, who received roughly 49 percent in House District 52B.

This seat was a gain for Republicans, as it had been held by DFL state Rep. Joe Atkins for 14 years. Atkins chose to leave the Legislature this year in order to run for the Dakota County Board of Commissioners.

Barr, who lives in Inver Grove Heights, said she is excited that voters put their trust in her. This is also an honor she takes seriously because she said there are a lot of things going on in the district that are “really important to constituents, including health care.”

She said, “It’s sort of a ying and yang if you will. There’s the elation and the excitement of winning the election, and then there’s also the sobering reality of we have a lot of work that needs to get done.”

This was her first time running for any elected office and she said she learned why it’s called a race. She said there were a lot of things that could have caused distractions so it was key to stay focused.

Barr owns the corporate consulting and executive coaching firm Red Ladder, Inc. She laughed as she said running a campaign is “like running a small business but except you have no staff or money. And then I [thought], ‘Oh wait a minute, that’s exactly like running a small business.’”

Barr said she is going to continue to build relationships with residents of District 52B. She also plans to schedule in some time for rest and relaxation. “I want to make sure I’m rested up and prepared to hit the ground running in January.”

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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