District 42A changes hands, again

DFLer Kelly Moller scored a resounding Election Day victory by recent standards in House District 42A, beating incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Jessup by more than 3,200 votes.

In winning the hotly contested and well-funded race, Moller helped flip control of the Minnesota House to the DFL party.

“I’m great,” said Moller in an interview the morning of Nov. 7, roughly a dozen hours after the race was called in her favor.

“It still doesn’t feel real to me because I’ve spent so many months on the campaign trail,” she said. “I’m still trying to process it.”

Moller tallied some 12,200 votes to Jessup’s 9,000, winning with 57.5 percent of the vote. That margin of victory is quite a shift compared to the previous two election cycles in 42A, which were decided by a couple hundred votes each time.

The district covers Arden Hills, Mounds View, part of Shoreview and a bit of Blaine. It was one of a number of suburban House districts that changed party hands, delivering half of the Legislature to DFL control. Though her win was part of a larger trend, Moller said it was her and her campaign’s specific work within the district that led to victory.

“It was the team effort and the message,” she said, noting that she ran on reducing gun violence and supporting education. “I think our message really resonated with the voters. The things we were talking about were what they were talking about.”

“We focused so much on our own community — that other stuff doesn’t feel like it played a part in what happened here.”

 

In the majority

Though as a representative-elect she said she lacks a point of comparison, Moller said she’s pleased to be heading to the House as a part of the majority, getting opportunities to author and co-author bills and move them through committee.

Just what committee she’ll land on herself is yet to be seen, she said, though her work as an assistant Hennepin County attorney and previous advocacy will likely inform her placement.

“Public Safety is the most likely committee I’ll be on,” said Moller, “so gun violence prevention is something I’ll get to work on right away.”

Moller said the hundreds of volunteers who helped out with her campaign, from door-knocking to making food, delivering yard signs and throwing parties, were integral to her success.

With her victory speech prepared, she said she was overwhelmed in a good way at the prospect of trying to thank all those who helped out. “Looking around the room at all who were there [election night], I couldn’t even begin to thank all the volunteers.”

 

Different takes

Jessup, who issued a statement via email, had a different take than Moller on why the race turned out the way it did.

“Tuesday’s results were definitely a boomerang effect to the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president,” he said. “We did all we desired on the campaign, however, when all Republican representatives in the suburbs were defeated, there is clearly a sense that something larger was at play in this year’s elections.”

Jessup first ran against former District 42A Rep. Barb Yarusso in 2014, losing by only 220 votes. Come 2016 he challenged Yarusso again, eking out a victory by 125 votes.

Jessup ran for his second term touting work on school safety and on the strength of his role as an assistant House majority leader. He also ran as someone who could find common cause, publishing a series of ads prior to the election containing uplifting quotes from world leaders, though he closed his emailed statement on a different note.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “Minnesota appears more politically divided today (metro areas vs. greater Minnesota) than at any point in recent history.”

Jessup’s statement did not include any indication whether or not he’d be back in the running in 2020.

Moller complimented Jessup on his effort.

“I was happy that Randy ran a positive campaign,” she said, pointing out that the negative attacks seen by voters in the district were put together by outside groups. She added, “I was also very proud of the [positive] campaign that we ran.”

 

–Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813.  

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