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Klassen won’t run for 23A seat

JACKSON — Democrat Heather Klassen, who ran an active and informed campaign for Minnesota House District 23A in 2018, said Tuesday she will not seek the seat this year.

“After the 2018 election, I had fully planned to run again and even started fundraising,” she posted on her Facebook page. “However, life sometimes throws you a curve ball and forces you to change paths.

“A few months ago, my boss and mentor, Mark Wheeler, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 56. I have worked with Mark at Complete Insurance Services, Inc., in Jackson since 2004, shortly after he founded the agency. Mark taught me everything I know about insurance, and he was also my friend. Over the next year, I feel that my focus should be on the agency to ensure that we are able to continue serving our clients in the way that Mark would expect, which is why I will not be running for office.”

Klassen lost her race against state Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, by a 63-37 margin, but not before visiting every community in the district, attending meetings of local governments and door-knocking at about 14,000 households.

Gunther recently announced that he will not run for re-election, ending what will be a 26-year run in the Legislature in 2021. Three fellow Republicans — Shane Schofield, chairman of the Watonwan County Republican Party; Tom Nelson, the economic development director in Jackson; and Elmore Mayor Bjorn Olson — are competing to represent the party in November. Whoever emerges would be considered to have an advantage to win the conservative-leaning district, which Gunther regularly carried with more than 60 percent of the vote.

No Democrats have yet announced. Klassen would have figured prominently on that side of the race had she chosen to get in. Now she says she is ready to help whichever Democrat chooses to take up the mantle.

“I want to encourage anyone who might be interested in running for this seat to go for it,” she said.

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