Melin wins House 5B DFL primary

Hibbing attorney Carly Melin won the House 5B Special Election DFL primary Tuesday. Late drama and a field of competent, strong candidates seemed to promise a long night and close vote. However, Melin won handily with a simple majority in a five-person race, validating her campaign strategy of direct mail and contact with likely voters.

Final numbers from the Secretary of State’s site:

Carly Melin; 2005; 50.15%
Shelley Robinson; 1180; 29.51%
Ray Pierce; 402; 10.06%
Jeff Kletscher; 317; 7.93%
John Spanish; 94; 2.35%

Melin now enters a general election that she can’t take for granted, regardless of the district’s DFL history. Republicans are very enthusiastic about their candidate, Paul Jacobson, who lost to Tony Sertich in this district last November and has a campaign at the ready. Cynthia Kafut Hagen is an Independence Party candidate almost certainly bound to draw more from Melin’s base than from Jacobson.

I spoke by phone with Melin from her campaign headquarters in Hibbing. Her initial remarks were directed to her primary opponents and their supporters.

“It’s never fun to beat other Democrats,” said Melin. “Ray Pierce Jr. is a great advocate for working people. Shelly Robinson has given a lot to our community. Jeff Kletscher has represented the rural parts of this district well, as evidenced by his big win in his hometown of Floodwood. John Spanish has represented us before in the legislature. We all agreed to come together after the primary and I trust their word on that.

“I’m truly impressed by the campaign the other candidates ran,” she continued. “Their hearts are in the right place and we all want to work hard for our communities and to make 5B a better place. They’re good people.

“I would like to thank the people who voted for me,” she added. “More than 2,000 votes, I’m truly humbled to receive a majority of the votes and will work hard as we go forward to meet more voters.”

Melin’s strategy will remain similar to her primary effort: Direct contact with likely voters.

“In a special election there isn’t much time to get to know the candidates,” she said. “I ran a visible campaign to let voters know who I am. I want to have contact with the voters so they know my positions on the issues. I think that when they do, the decision will be in my favor.”

MinnesotaBrown now kicks into general election mode. I’ll be sharing commentaries and news from all three candidates and hope that my Republican and independent friends join me in following this very important Iron Range election.


  1. Way to go Carly! I believe it was the large signs with your photo on them & the information available on this website that brought me & my wife out to vote. Seeing a few posts on my facebook with how many people voted in my area also helped nudge along with our need to feel that we need to get out & have a voice. Aaron- I discovered your site recently & enjoy reading your posts. You do a wonderful job -Thank you! I see you have children as do I. Perhaps someday some writings about that subject if you care to venture into that. I have several children & always like to read about things to do & ways to grow as a father. I think you’d do well in that category.

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