Primary election roundup: Gray loses in State Auditor primary

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September 3, 2002 // UPDATED 1:30 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Kevin Featherly
Kevin Featherly

A Downtown legislator was defeated in his bid to become State Auditor in perhaps the biggest upset of the Sept. 10 primary election.

State Treasurer Carol Johnson defeated District 58B state Rep. Gregory Gray, the party-endorsed candidate, in the DFL primary. Johnson, whose job is being abolished by a change in state law, trounced Gray 51 percent to 36 percent.

Contacted the day after the primary, Gray said he was not sure what he would do next. "I thought I was going to be busy through November campaigning," he said. "I'll dust off my resume and see what's available. It's been four years since I've done legal work."

Gray received 76,294 votes to Johnson's 109,227.

Had he won in the general election, Gray would have been the highest-ranking African-American elected official in state history. The state DFL party and U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's campaign spent tens of thousands of dollars supporting Gray.

In other primary elections affecting Downtown:

Senate District 58

DFL incumbent District 58 state Sen. Linda Higgins easily survived a primary challenge by DFL activist and theatrical stagehand Mike Fedor. Higgins collected 2,614 votes to Fedor's 484 votes, an 84 percent to 16 percent margin. Republican Jeff Scott and Independence Party candidate Sheree Breedlove will be on the November ballot.

District 58 covers Downtown roughly north of 7th Street, as well as north Minneapolis.

House District 58B

The four major parties all fielded candidates in the race for the seat being left vacant by Gray; all were unopposed. Endorsed DFL candidate Keith Ellison received 1,265 votes. Republican Larissa Presho took in 177 votes, while Independence Party candidate J. Thomas Lijewski got 47 votes and Green Party hopeful Bonnie Jean Smith received 43 votes. An independent candidate, North Loop resident Duane Reed, will be in November's general election.

District 58B covers Downtown north of 7th Street (it is the southern part of Senate District 58).

Senate District 60

DFL-endorsed candidate Scott Dibble, the incumbent District 60B representative, easily survived a challenge from former Massachusetts Rep. Rick Roche. In an unusual state Senate primary featuring metro-wide TV ads from Roche, Dibble collected 5,830 votes to Roche's 1,061, or 85 percent to 15 percent.

According to the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, Roche spent $15,375 on the campaign as of Aug. 19, but most of his TV ads accusing Dibble of favoring a stadium finance plan aired after that date. Dibble spent $14,778 as of Aug. 19, the latest available date for expenditures. The Green Party's Nick Granath, a former Plymouth City Councilmember, spent $205 by Aug. 19, and collected 273 votes in the primary while running unopposed. The GOP fielded no candidate.

Granath and Dibble will meet in the general election.

The winner in that contest will take over the seat being vacated by retiring DFL Sen. Myron Orfield. The district covers Downtown south of 7th Street and Loring Park.

House District 60A

DFL incumbent Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Republican challenger Noah Rouen ran unopposed in their primaries. The incumbent collected 2,513 votes compared to Rouen's 392 votes. District 60A covers Downtown south of 7th Street and Loring Park.