Two Washington County candidates vie in DFL primary for MN Senate seat

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Two candidates are facing off in a Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary Tuesday for a chance to challenge the Republican incumbent this fall in a state Senate seat representing northeastern Washington County.

Nancy McLean of Stillwater and Brian Baber of Scandia will be on the ballot in Senate District 33. Newly redrawn in the once-a-decade process, the district includes parts or all of the communities of Stillwater, Hugo, Dellwood, Oak Park Heights, Bayport, Mahtomedi, Forest Lake, Scandia, Marine on St. Croix, and May Township. Much of the district is currently represented by three-term Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, who will appear on the November ballot.

NANCY MCLEAN

“I’m very much focused on November,” McLean, the DFL-endorsed candidate, said in an interview. “I think I’m in tune with the voters of this district. We’ve been working hard, and I am a viable candidate to take on Karin Housley.”

After more than 20 years at 3M, McLean, 60, a single mother of grown children, opened a marriage and family therapy practice. She has served as chair of the St. Croix Valley Alliance. She mounted a campaign for the seat in 2020 but dropped out after not winning the party endorsement.

She said her top issue is the economy. “People are feeling pinched,” she said. To address that, the Legislature should enact “responsible tax relief for families, seniors and small businesses,” she said.

She also listed abortion rights and education as especially salient. Would she spend more on education? “It might mean spending more,” she said. “Money matters, but how we spend it matters, too.”

BRIAN BABER

Baber, 39, is a father of three and veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served a tour in Iraq and was stationed in South Korea. He currently works at a GNC in Forest Lake. He has no campaign website.

A first-time candidate, he said in an interview that he thinks he can offer middle ground in today’s polarized politics: “Most of my friends are far-right conservatives. I’m kind of an outlier. A lot of my friends said, ‘You should run. We’d vote for you.’ ”

“I try to be practical and realistic as far as which policies are doable,” he said. “I believe in our Second Amendment, but I believe it should be more regulated. I’m a gun owner. I believe you should have a license and be trained if you’re going to be able to own something designed to kill people.”

He said he supports abortion rights and wants to see more resources for veterans.

The winner will face Housley in the Nov. 8 general election.

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