Meet the candidates running in Northern Minnesota’s pivotal District 3 State Senate race

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) - After 30 years in office, long-time State Senator Tom Bakk announced he would not be running again for Minnesota’s District 3 Senate seat.

His retirement makes the district vulnerable to being flipped red.

On August 9th, voters in District 3 will take to the polls for the DFL and republican primaries.

Three candidates are already campaigning.

Grant Hauschild, a DFL-endorsed candidate, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

He launched that campaign with Senator Tina Smith at an event Thursday evening in Hermantown.

Meanwhile, Kelsey Johnson and Andrea Zupancich will face off in the Republican primary in August.

Johnson is the former president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, and said she’s wanted to run for State Senate for quite some time now.

“There’s no better time than now to run, and unfortunately for me, it’s been 20 years that I’ve waited for the opportunity,” Johnson said. “This is the first time that I could run for State Senate and I’m really excited about it.”

She said she is prioritizing tax cuts for Northern Minnesotans.

“A lot of Minnesotans now are seeing less and less money in their pocket,” Johnson said. “And, I’d like to deliver. I’d like to make sure they’re getting more and more of that money back in their pocket.”

Johnson also said she wants to provide women with alternatives to abortion.

She’s running against Zupancich, the current mayor of Babbitt, who supports pro-life legislation, and said she wants to amplify the voice of this region at the state capitol.

“When layoffs hit and schools get cut, all in all, it really affects the community in such a huge way that I don’t think people down in the metro area understand that,” Zupancich said.

Zupancich said if elected, she wants to help pave the way for copper-nickel mines to become a reality.

“We need to get the mines going,” she said. “We need to get Twin Metals and Polymet going. Polymet has been going at this for 16, 18 years now. Twin Metals, we have some of the cleanest copper with the least amount of runoff.”

Meanwhile, Grant Hauschild is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.

Thursday, he was joined by U.S. Sen. Tina Smith for a campaign kickoff event in Hermantown.

He said his experience in D.C. as a legislative aide, working as Hermantown City Councilor and running a hospital foundation have prepared him to take on this role.

If elected, his main priority would be focusing on Northland families.

“We’re hearing a lot of different things,” he said. “Childcare costs are such a barrier for so many families. Home prices. We have a lot of folks who want to work up here in the Northland, and they can’t find housing, or at least not affordable housing.”

Hauschild also said he would focus on growing the regional economy, making healthcare more affordable and supporting first responders.

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