DeNucci, Venema advance in Itasca Co. primary

Ben DeNucci

Ben DeNucci and Casey Venema advanced from a low-turnout Nov. 3 primary election to the Dec. 12 special election for the open District 5 Itasca County Board seat.

DeNucci, the mayor of Nashwauk, won 757 votes to 449 for Venema, a Lawrence Township supervisor.

Roger Weber of Nashwauk Township finished with 142 votes.

The story of the race was the incredibly low turnout, followed by the nature of the district’s geography. DeNucci’s strength in Keewatin and Nashwauk, where he owns businesses, was evident. We saw more votes in these western Mesabi Range cities than in the small townships in the northern and western part of the district, where Venema did better. Venema generated a lot of interest in his campaign, but it would appear that most of his natural constituency is in neighboring District 3 where most of the Greenway school district is located.

Casey Venema

DeNucci’s took more than 56 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Venama trailed with 33 percent. Even combining Weber’s votes to Venema’s totals show that DeNucci starts the general election with a majority. It’s possible that more people vote in the Dec. 12 general election, but getting that to happen would require some kind of fundamental shift in the amount of attention this election has gotten.

It will be a challenge for these candidates to generate enthusiasm for a snowy, cold election day two months from now. Why the county used such a long, dragged-out timeframe is beyond me. This feels like an election that could have been done weeks ago, not months from now.

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