DULUTH, MN – This campaign season, all eyes have been on a close race for the State Senate District 7 seat Democratic nomination.
The race featured Incumbent Erik Simonson and challenger Jen McEwen, who both looked to represent Duluth in the State Senate.
When asked on Tuesday, both candidates agreed part of the reason the race is close is due to the large number of early and absentee ballots the city received.
With more people urged to vote absentee due to the pandemic, the turnout was good for the 2020 primary election.
The pandemic also effected the candidates on the campaign trail.
McEwen said her campaign had to adjust as public events were canceled.
Door knocking was also no longer possible, so her campaign took a different approach and focused on social media.
McEwen won the primary race. She said if wins the seat in November, she wants to focus on affordable healthcare, the climate crisis, and affordable housing.
"Over 200 people in Duluth Minnesota, sleeping outside in the wintertime, without a place to call home. Without a roof over their heads or shelter, it's appalling. It's an ethical issue every Duluthian should realize is an emergency," McEwen said.
Incumbent Erik Simonson says the inability to interact with the community created challenges during his campaign.
He held the seat for eight years. Simonson thinks experience will be needed in the legislature next year.
"The legislature in 2021 is going to face a significant budget shortfall. We are going to have some real challenges navigating that and making sure we come out in such a way that people don't necessarily get harmed that shouldn't and I think having experienced people in the seat will be helpful," Simonson said.
After her primary win, McEwen will now take on Donna Bergstrom, who is the Republican candidate for the District 7 seat.
Voters picked the newcomer over incumbent Senator Erik Simonson.
Simonson is a first-term senator and previously held a house seat for two terms.
The primary race featured big endorsements for both candidates and television and radio ads.
Bergstrom most recently ran for lieutenant governor with gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson in 2018.