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Persell announces run for House comeback at DFL event

Former District 5A Rep. John Persell speaks with Rebecca Otto, State Auditor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, at the Beltrami County DFL fish fry on Monday at the Bemidji Eagles Club. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Former House District 5A Rep. John Persell announced his run to win back the seat on Monday evening at a Beltrami County DFL fish fry at the Bemidji Eagles Club.

“I need to get back involved,” Persell told the Pioneer. “There’s unfinished business, particularly with education at the K12 level and also in post-secondary.”

Persell was unseated by Republican Matt Bliss in the race for the District 5A seat in the 2016 election. He held the District 4A seat from 2009-2012 and District 5A from 2013-2016 when he was defeated by Bliss. The change in House representation was due to redistricting.

Persell has lived in the district for 40 years and works as an environmental policy analyst for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

“I took certainly some weeks if not a couple of months to digest things and I’ve never had a bad word to say about Matt Bliss,” Persell said. “I just have the belief that we Democrats can do a better job for all of Minnesota.”

Also in attendance Monday were DFL gubernatorial candidates Rebecca Otto, State Auditor, and Rep. Paul Thissen, former speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives as well as Rep. Debra Hilstrom, 2018 attorney general candidate.

Gubernatorial candidates Chris Coleman, St. Paul Mayor, and State Rep. Tim Walz also sent surrogates to the dinner.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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