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EGF attorney seeking District 1 seat

An East Grand Forks attorney is adding his name to an already long list of Republican candidates seeking to succeed a longtime Minnesota lawmaker.

Mark Johnson announced Thursday he is seeking the Republican endorsement for the state Senate race in District 1. That seat will be vacated by the retiring Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, who has been in the Legislature for more than 30 years.

"Northwestern Minnesota needs someone right now in (Senate District 1) who is able to fight for the unique interests and priorities of this area," Johnson said in a statement. "As a homeowner, small-business owner and father of three, I share many of the same concerns (Senate District 1) residents may have. I want to go to St. Paul to ensure we are effectively represented."

Johnson follows Roseau's Sue Grafstrom, Crookston Mayor Gary Willhite, and rural Newfolden's Roger Schmitz in announcing intentions to seek the Republican endorsement in District 1. But Johnson said there are even more candidates who haven't publicly announced plans for a run.

"I think the way it stands, there are probably six of us who have announced, to the party anyway, that we're going to be running for the endorsement," he said in an interview.

District 1 covers Minnesota's northwestern counties of Polk, Kittson, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall and Roseau.

This is Johnson's first time seeking public office, but he has been involved with the local Republican Party for roughly the last three years, he said. He and his wife, Skyler, own Sage Legal in East Grand Forks, and he is also an owner of Johnson Concrete Construction in Mentor, Minn.

"I've been thinking about doing this in the future at some point, but when LeRoy announced he would be retiring at the end of this session, I thought it would be an excellent time to try it," Johnson said.

The district Republican convention will be held April 8 in Newfolden.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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