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Replacement DFLer Simonson wins big in Duluth state House race

The state Supreme Court allowed Erik Simonson’s name on the ballot after state Rep. Kerry Gauthier withdrew from the race.

Erik Simonson, the DFL’s late ballot replacement in District 7B, won easily Tuesday night.

He was put on the ballot by the state Supreme Court after state Rep. Kerry Gauthier withdrew from the race after the deadline. Gauthier dropped out after news broke that he’d been questioned by police about having sex with a 17-year-old boy at a rest stop.

Simonson, an assistant Duluth fire chief, got more than 62 percent of the vote. Republican Travis Silvers had nearly 22 percent.

Write-in candidate Jay Fosle, a member of the Duluth City Council who was endorsed in the race by the Duluth newspaper, had about 15 percent of the vote.

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Simonson told the Duluth News Tribune last night:

“After a lot of bizarre discussions early on in this race, people in the district started focusing on issues. And when they compared me to my opponents, they liked what I was talking about on education and taxes and the fact that we have a revenue problem in Minnesota, not just a budget problem.”

And the paper reports that Simonson:

…supports Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans to help balance the state budget. Simonson said another priority for him at the Capitol will be restoring the Homestead property tax credit eliminated in 2011.

And worries that the Fosle write-in campaign would cause long delays in counting the ballots didn’t prove true, the paper said.