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ELECTION: GOP picks District 2 roster: Two newcomers, incumbent will be on the ballot for Republicans

BAGLEY—A retired Clearwater County sheriff's deputy is hoping to keep the House District 2A seat for the Republicans in the state Legislature.

Area Republican delegates gathered in Bagley on Monday night to endorse State District 2 Senate and House candidates for seats in the state Legislature.

Matt Grossell, 50, of Clearbrook, said he decided to run to get off the sidelines.

"I want to come alongside and do my part to be a voice for our area, for District 2A. I want to work alongside our other representatives," Grossell said. "I need to serve, that's what I'm wired to do."

In a unanimous vote, the delegates selected Grossell as their candidate.

Not included as a candidate for endorsement was District 2A Incumbent Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji, who announced March 18 he wouldn't seek another term.

"The experience over the last six years, four in and two running to get back in, has been very humbling and it's been an honor and a privilege to represent some of you here," Hancock said Monday's event. "It's tremendous to see the turnout, each time it's more important."

For House District 2B, the Republicans endorsed incumbent Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, who was the only nominee presented.

"Somebody here asked, 'What can we do?' I say, you're doing it here tonight," Green said. "And you need to keep doing it all through this election cycle."

Green, who was first elected in 2012, is a committee member on the Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy, as well as the Legacy Funding Finance and Environmental and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committees.

Running against Grossell and Green for the House seats on the DFL side will be Bryan Klabunde of Waubun for District 2B and Jerry Loud of Puposky for District 2A. The DFL Party held its District 2 convention March 19 in Ogema.

In Monday night's first vote, the delegates chose Paul Utke of Park Rapids as their candidate to unseat longtime incumbent Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Utke, 59, is an insurance agent and serves on the Park Rapids City Council, a position he's held since 2009.

"As we all sit and look at what's going on, basically you get fed up with everything you see," Utke said in his statement on why he decided to run. "So you have to jump in and try to improve things. That's where we're at right now."

Up next for area Republicans will be the Beltrami County Republican Convention, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 9 at Bemidji High School. The convention will include electing county delegates to serve at district and state conventions.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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