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Very low turnout at the primary

In a primary election held last Tuesday, a small number of local voters helped narrow down the field of candidates for the general election coming up in November.

Voter turnout was dismally low across the area, with just 6.85 percent of all eligible voters in Otter Tail County showing up at the polls. That percentage was about the same in New York Mills, where 6.94 percent voted, and even lower in Perham, where just 3.96 percent cast their ballots. 

Statewide, about 9 percent of all eligible voters turned out for the primary - reportedly the second-worst turnout in 62 years of recorded history.

This was only the second time that a primary was held in August. They had been held in September but were moved up two years ago to allow more time for overseas and military voters to return absentee ballots.

Statewide, Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar came in far ahead of her three little-known rivals, easily winning her party's primary with more than 90 percent of the vote. 

Klobuchar's Republican-endorsed challenger, Kurt Bills, received 53 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. A third candidate, Stephen Williams, an unendorsed candidate of the Independence Party, will also appear on the ballot. 

All of the 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature will be up for election in November; of those, 40 were included in the primary.

In the House of Representatives District 8B, newly created through redistricting, primary voters chose Bob Cunniff as their DFL candidate. Cunniff, a former teacher and coach from Alexandria, Minn., easily beat out his opponent, Bruce Campbell, also of Alexandria, in the DFL race. 

Cunniff will face off with Republican candidate Mary Franson in the general election. Franson, of Alexandria, was the only candidate for this seat on the GOP ballot. She formerly served as a Representative for District 11B.

District 8B includes New York Mills, Ottertail, and other areas in eastern Otter Tail County (but not the city of Perham, which is part of District 8A).

In the nonpartisan judicial races, Lorie Skjerven Gildea, the incumbent candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, came out at the top, with 49 percent of the vote. The next top vote-getter in that race, Dan Griffith, garnered 29 percent of votes statewide. The two will face off in the general election.

Vying for Place 4 on the state Supreme Court will be incumbent David Stras, who garnered 48.8 percent of the primary vote, and challenger Tim Tingelstad, who received 29.4 percent.

Many more state and local candidates will be included in the general election. For a full list of those, and their political platforms, refer to our Voter's Guide, coming out with the Nov. 1 edition of the East Otter Tail Focus.