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PRIMARY RESULTS: Incumbents hold off challengers in Congressional races

Check back with KARE 11 for the latest updates on the state's most critical contests.

MINNEAPOLIS — There were few surprises, and most incumbents will move on to November following Minnesota's 2022 primary election. 

Based on early returns Tuesday night, the Associated Press quickly projected the anticipated victories for DFL incumbent Gov. Tim Walz and Republican Dr. Scott Jensen in their respective primaries, setting the governor's race for this fall.

To find out who prevailed and which candidates had their political dreams dashed, check out results from the state's most critical contests on our election results page.

RACES TO WATCH:

Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District

Perhaps the most-watched race Tuesday took place in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District, resulting in a close win for incumbent Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

"Tonight’s victory is a testament to how much our district believes in the collective values we are fighting for and how much they’re willing to do to help us overcome defeat," Omar said in a statement following her victory. "This win is for them and everyone who still believes that hate, division and regression will not be the legacy of the Fifth.”

The showdown between Omar and former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels proved close throughout the vote tally, but as Omar pulled slightly more ahead, Samuels made the choice to concede.

"To have come this close means we have our finger on the pulse of the exhausted majority," Samuels told his supporters on Wednesday night.

Omar, assuming her first term in Congress in 2019, carried into this year's primaries the support of many progressives -- like Attorney General Keith Ellison -- in the historically blue district, while Samuels earned endorsements from other electeds, like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

One of the more contested topics between the two candidates during the primary election hinged on public safety. Omar is a vocal proponent of police reform, a supporter of the failed City Charter proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety -- a measure Samuels opposed.

While Omar came out on top in the 2020 primaries with almost 60% of the vote -- putting her in place to claim victory later that November by an even larger margin of just over 64% -- Samuels still launched himself into an optimistic campaign.

"With the stakes as high as they are in Washington in these divisive times, people are demanding a different approach to leadership," Samuels told reporters in June.

Omar, meanwhile, did not mince words about her accomplishments in office at a townhall last week in Robbinsdale.

"I've actually made a difference in regards to introducing and working on legislation that creates better safety measures for our communities. I've delivered resources to work on crime prevention. As you know, we've just passed bipartisan legislation to deal with gun violence. We've delivered lots of resources to deal with mental health and substance abuse," Omar said. "My opponent served on the city council for three cycles as the chair of public safety. And made zero difference."

On the Republican side, the Associated Press projects Cicely Davis will advance to November, defeating former NBA player Royce White in the GOP primary.

Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District 

Rep. Betty McCollum (D), the elected representative of Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District for over two decades, overcame a challenge from more progressive-leaning Amane Badhasso Tuesday night, cementing her name on the ballot this fall.

Badhasso, 32, an Ethiopian refugee and community organizer, told KARE 11 she ran against McCollum to create a space for "a new generation of leadership." 

Ahead of her primary win, McCollum -- the 22-year veteran of the state's Fourth District seat, which covers St. Paul and most of its suburbs -- spoke confidently about completing the work she feels she has yet to get done.

“The cooperation and the team spirit we've developed out here in the east metro is something that makes me excited about going back to Congress,” McCollum told KARE.

The Congresswoman won her 2020 primary race with 84% of voters, going on to beat her November challengers with 64%.

Minnesota's First Congressional District

Following the death of First Congressional District Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) earlier this year, southern Minnesota voters prepared to immediately fill the late Congressman's seat in a special election, while also voting to determine who will appear on their ballots in November. 

The Associated Press projected the winner of the race as Republican Brad Finstad, who maintained a steady lead over Democrat Jeff Ettinger throughout the early returns.

In the primaries, Finstad and Ettinger were the projected winners of their regular party primaries, setting up a rematch on November's ballot for a full two-year term.

A farmer and soil lab operator from New Ulm, Finstad most recently led the regional USDA Rural Development Office under former President Donald Trump.

Ettinger, an attorney and former CEO of Hormel Foods in Austin, now heads the Hormel Foundation. Ettinger told KARE 11 he decided to run after the events of Jan. 6.

"...not only [because of] the riot, but the fact that Mr. Hagedorn refused to certify the election. Those are both to me really dismaying."

"I'll be putting my head down with that farmer mentality, rolling up my sleeves and getting things done. That's what's resonating with folks, and that's who I am," Finstad told KARE 11.

Donald Trump carried the First District in Minnesota in both 2016 and 2020, but Democrats remain positive, if only for the fact that now-Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, represented CD1 for 12 years before assuming the role of governor.

Minnesota GOP Attorney General

In the statewide race for top lawyer, two Republicans at the top of the field looked to challenge incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison. Republican Party-endorsed Jim Schultz who held a sizeable lead over challenger Doug Wardlow, the party's 2018 nominee.

Schultz, a corporate lawyer from Minnetonka, was formally backed by the GOP earlier this year. His opponent Wardlow, who represents Minnesota-based My Pillow among others, lost to Ellison by just 4 points in 2018.

Ellison's 2018 win earned him his first term as AG, serving the previous 12 years in Congress for Minnesota’s Fifth District. 

Ellison is once again the DFL-endorsed candidate for the office without facing major opposition, handily winning his primary race Tuesday.

Schultz will now take on the incumbent AG in the November Midterm Elections.

Hennepin County Sheriff

The election to replace embattled Sheriff David Hutchinson was set to be narrowed from three candidates to two Tuesday night, projecting a contest between two law enforcement veterans, who together have with more than 40 years of experience.

Dawanna Witt, the DFL-endorsed, 23-year law enforcement veteran who currently heads the two largest divisions at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office led the way, while Joseph Banks, a bail agent and former officer of more than two decades, followed. Jai Hanson, a metro police officer for the last 14 years, trailed Banks by just a few percentage points in third place with only a handful or precincts outstanding on Tuesday night.

The open field comes after Hutchinson fell into legal trouble last winter, admitting to driving drunk following a Sheriff's Association conference and crashing the county-owned vehicle he was driving. In the months following the event, and after facing mounting calls to resign, Hutchinson announced he would finish the rest of his term and not seek re-election.

Later taking a leave of absence due to "health-related reasons," Chief Deputy Tracey Martin assumed operations on behalf of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Hennepin County Attorney

The effort to replace Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman after he spent 24 years in the office culminated Tuesday into a showdown between seven local lawyers with varying degrees of legal expertise.

With nearly all precincts in on Tuesday night, the top two candidates emerged as Mary Moriarty, who has 30 years of experience as a public defender, and Hennepin County Judge Martha Holton Dimick. Rep. Ryan Winkler, the House Majority Leader in the Minnesota Legislature, continued to trail the two leading candidates, with Holton Dimick maintaining a slight lead.

With the field reduced to two, the candidates will face off against each other again in November.

Freeman won his last election in 2018, earning 54% of the vote.

For more information on voting in Minnesota, check out KARE's Voter Tool Kit.

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