By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press
— Freshman Republican state Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, trailed much of Tuesday night after redistricting left him with a lot of new territory — including western Le Sueur County in House District 20A.
But Woodard pulled out a victory over Le Sueur DFLer Ryan Wolf when all the votes were counted early Wednesday morning — 54 percent to 45 percent.
Results were also coming in slow in District 18B, which includes Sibley County. With 39 of 48 precincts counted at 1:30 a.m. today, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, had 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Logan Campa, DFL-Hutchinson.
Other area House races were complete:
(68 of 68 precincts)
Republican Rep. Paul Torkelson, who moved his residence a few miles north to Lake Hanska after redistricting left his home in the same district as a fellow Republican lawmaker, won 56 percent of the vote in a three-way race. James Kanne, DFL-Franklin, had 32 percent and New Ulm independent Jerry “Pike” Pagel had 12 percent.
(88 of 88 precincts)
Fairmont Republican Rep. Bob Gunther, who was facing perhaps his most aggressive electoral challenge in his 10th run for the House, still cruised to victory — 57 percent to 43 percent — over Kevin Labenz, DFL-Welcome. The district, which includes part of Watonwan County and much of Faribault County, had never before given Gunther less than 61 percent of the vote.
(23 of 23 precincts)
Republican John Petersburg won a battle of Wasecans to claim the seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna. Petersburg picked up 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Democrat Craig Brenden.
Districts 19A & 23B
Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, and Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, were unopposed. Morrow won a fourth term in the House and Cornish was re-electe