Wounded Iraq war vet John Kriesel was part of the Republican surge that took control of the state House Tuesday.
Kriesel won as a Republican in what has been considered a safe DFL district; incumbent DFLer Karla Bigham didn’t seek a second term.
Kriesel, 29, who lost both legs in a bomb blast in Iraq four years ago, campaigned door to door on a Segway; he also wrote a book with Jim Kosmo about his experiences — “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel.”
Kriesel told MinnPost’s Doug Grow last month that he’s hoping to change some of the negativity in politics:
“The thing I hear people say is they’re tired of the ‘mad’ tone in politics. I’m different. I think the tone can be changed. It starts with one guy. It’s like the military. When you’re on a mission, you work together to get the job done. … I tell people, it took two parties to drive us into the ditch. It’s going to take us all working together to get out of the ditch.”
Kriesel beat DFLer Jen Peterson by a 52-48 percent vote. Peterson, too, has a compelling story, Grow said:
Following a divorce from her first husband, she was left with four young children, little education and virtually no child support from her ex. With the help of public assistance, she got her degree in physical therapy, founded a nonprofit advocacy group of single moms, was elected to the Cottage Grove City Council and became president of the board of directors of the Minnesota Women’s Consortium.
DFLers realized early on that Kriesel had a “celebrity-factor” going for him — U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and Margaret Anderson Kelliher came to the district to campaign for Peterson — but iy wasn’t enough.