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Former state Rep. Karla Bigham congratulates Dan Schoen after he won the House District 54A endorsement at a local DFL nominating convention Saturday in South St. Paul. Bulletin photo by Jon Avise.

Schoen, Bayers win local DFL endorsements

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Cottage Grove police officer Dan Schoen and Hastings resident Joanna Bayers will represent Democrats this fall in local state House races after winning the party's endorsement Saturday at the Senate District 54 nominating convention in South St. Paul.

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Schoen, of St. Paul Park, easily won the party's nod to contest the House District 54A race on the first ballot, earning more than 60 percent of the ballots cast by local DFL activists during the morning gathering at South St. Paul High School. Bayers was unopposed in seeking the endorsement in 54B to face longtime incumbent Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, in the fall.

Local DFLers also unanimously endorsed incumbent state Sen. Katie Sieben, of Cottage Grove, to run for re-election.

Schoen maneuvered a crowded field of 54A hopefuls, defeating Newport City Council member Steven Gallagher, Newport planning commissioner Dan Lund and former District 833 School Board candidate Katie Schwartz, of St. Paul Park, for the nomination.

He will face Cottage Grove City Council member Derrick Lehrke in the fall. Lehrke won the endorsement of local Republicans Saturday afternoon in Hastings.

"No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, the controlling party has shirked their responsibility to the people of Minnesota," Schoen said in an interview after he had secured the endorsement. "(Republicans) are talking about constitutional amendments when they needed to balance the budget and create jobs. They're more worried about a man and a man getting married or a woman and a woman getting married than solving the problems in the state that affect all of us."

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