John Petersburg, the endorsed Republican candidate for the state House seat encompassing Waseca and Owatonna, ran up a big margin in Steele County and won his primary election contest against fellow-Republican and Waseca City Councilman Larry Johnson.
Petersburg, the administrator of a 4,200-member Lutheran church in Owatonna, had 66 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Johnson, manager of the Waseca American Legion, with 23 of 23 precincts counted.
That sets up the race on Nov. 6 to pick the replacement for two-term Democratic Rep. Kory Kath of Owatonna, who decided not to seek re-election. The district dominated by Owatonna and Waseca had been a Republican stronghold until Kath’s surprise victory in 2008.
Waseca music teacher, band director and National Guard member Craig Brenden is the Democratic candidate and was unopposed on Tuesday.
Johnson, a supporter of Texas Congressman Ron Paul and his libertarian leanings, bucked the party platform in opposing government prohibitions on gay marriage and medical marijuana.
“I’m really more concerned about the fiscal issues than the social issues,” Johnson said.
He hoped that Petersburg’s Republican endorsement might be more of a hindrance than a help in the primary because of voters’ distaste for partisan gridlock.
But Johnson conceded that the lack of party support was a disadvantage in the campaign when it came to finances and logistical support.
Petersburg agreed that voters are tired of near constant war between the two main political parties. At the same time, he said it’s important that Republicans continue to fight tax increases and focus on cutting government spending in order to help business owners thrive.
“The taxes in the state are really overbearing,” he said during the campaign.
A former farmer (who still owns his farm), Petersburg has also served as a school board member for the Claremont/Triton school district.