For the second straight election, Democrats couldn't find a candidate willing to tackle six-term incumbent state Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center.
Cornish, a retired law enforcement officer and game warden, is the only area lawmaker who will get a free ride to re-election after a quartet of Democrats and one Republican jumped in on the final day of the two-week filing period to take on incumbent representatives.
Cornish's sprawling district includes most of Blue Earth County outside of the immediate Mankato area but stretches from Waterville and Elysian to Madelia and St. James. After having a couple of close elections early in his career, Cornish won by 40 percentage points in a three-way race in 2010 and was unchallenged in 2012.
The Republican Party was mostly set in south-central Minnesota by the end of last week, but a last-minute filing by Republican North Mankato City Councilman Kim Spears was required to provide an opponent for Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato. (See story on Page A1).
Democrats, though, have some work to do. Pat Bacon, DFL-Fairmont, on Tuesday took on the daunting task of challenging Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, who is on a 10-election winning streak. Bacon is a nurse practitioner and instructor at Presentation College in Fairmont.
Beverly Cashman, by filing Tuesday, made a contest in District 24A, which includes Waseca. Cashman, DFL-Owatonna, is challenging freshman Republican Rep. John Petersburg of Waseca.
And John Lipke, DFL-Steward, gave voters in Sibley County and points north an alternative to state Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, who is seeking a third term in the House.
Democrats actually have one too many candidates in District 20A, which stretches from rural Lakeville to Cleveland, Le Sueur, Le Center and other parts of the western two-thirds of Le Sueur County.