Bianca Virnig wins DFL special primary election for Dakota County House seat

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Bianca Virnig bested three other Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidates in a special primary election Thursday for a vacant state House seat in the south Twin Cities suburbs.

Virnig, a member of the Rosemount-Apple Valley Eagan School Board, will go on to face Mendota Heights Republican Cynthia Lonnquist and Eagan Libertarian Charles Kuchlenz in the general election for Dakota County’s House District 52B on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Bianca Ward Virnig

Virnig won the primary with nearly 40% of the vote, according to unofficial results. She was followed by Mendota Heights City Council member Jay Miller, who had nearly 37% of the vote. Pro-Choice Minnesota board member Cynthia Callais had 19% and Eagan Planning Commission member Chris Whitfield had around 4%.

Voters cast around 2,000 ballots, according to initial results from the Secretary of State.

House District 52B includes the south metro suburbs of Eagan and Mendota Heights.The seat opened after Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, resigned from her seat in September. During her five years in the House, she was a key sponsor of paid family and medical leave legislation, which after years of effort became law this year.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, May 25, signed into law a bill creating a paid family and medical leave program. Standing to his left is House bill sponsor Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights. Behind him to the right is Senate bill sponsor Sen. Alice Mann, DFL-Edina. (Alex Derosier / Forum News Service)

Richardson in 2022 accepted a position as CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. At the time she did not plan to resign, something Republicans called a conflict of interest. She eventually resigned to focus more on her new role.

Gov. Tim Walz called the special election shortly after Richardson stepped down.

DFL leadership issued a statement late Thursday following Virnig’s victory.

“When she gets to the Legislature, Bianca will fight for fully funded public schools, for more affordable childcare, and against corporate greed,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement. “We never take any special election outcome for granted, and we will leave nothing on the table as we work to elect Bianca as Minnesota’s newest state legislator.”

The Minnesota Legislature reconvenes for the 2024 session on Feb. 12.

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