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The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 announced that it's backing 16 GOP incumbents and 10 DFL incumbents in its first round of endorsements. The list is noteworthy because of its bipartisan mix, which is rare for most labor unions.

Operating engineers endorse bipartisan slate of candidates

GOP Sen. Jeremy Miller (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 announced that it’s backing 16 GOP incumbents and 10 DFL incumbents in its first round of endorsements. The list is noteworthy because of its bipartisan mix, which is rare for most labor unions.

Among the noteworthy picks is Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, who the union endorsed over Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. The two incumbents were paired in redistricting.

The 49ers are also backing freshman Sen. Jeremy Miller, who will likely face a tough re-election campaign in a southeastern swing district. The DFL-endorsed candidate is realtor Jack Krage, a former member of the Winona planning commission.

The union has also endorsed 16 DFL candidates who are challengers. Two of those challengers — Ian Alexander and Jason Metsa — face  primaries in districts that heavily favor DFLers.

The union will screen candidates in 15 to 20 more races that it deems to be important or competitive over the summer.

The Republican incumbents endorsed by the union are:

Sens. Bill Ingebrigtsen (SD 8), Jeremy Miller (SD 28) and Dave Senjem (SD 25)

Reps. Jim Abeler (HD 35A), Tony Cornish (HD 23B), Kurt Daudt (HD 31A), Pat Garofalo (HD 58B), Tom Hackbarth (HD 31B), Rod Hamilton (HD 22B), Joe Hoppe (HD 47B), Larry Howes (HD 5A), Denny McNamara (HD 54B), Tim O’Driscoll (HD 13B), Tim Sanders (HD 37B), Joe Schomacker (HD 22A) and Steve Smith (HD 33B)

The DFL incumbents are:

Sens. Tom Bakk (SD 3), Terri Bonoff (SD 44), Bobby Joe Champion (currently a House member seeking SD 59 seat) and Ann Rest (SD 45)

Reps. Tom Anzelc (HD 5B), Lyndon Carlson (HD 45A), Melissa Hortman (HD 36B), Kim Norton (HD 25B), Paul Thissen (HD 61B), John Ward (HD 10A)

The challengers are:

Ian Alexander (running in a three-way DFL primary in HD 59B), Connie Bernardy (HD  41A), Kevin Dahle (SD 20), Zachary Dorholt (HD 14B), Al Doty (SD 9), Ron Ehardt (HD 49A), Melisa Franzen (SD 49), John Hoffman (SD 36), Alice Johnson (SD 37), Jason Metsa (running in a three-way DFL primary in HD 6B), Will Morgan (HD 56B), Jerry Newton (HD 37A), Joe Radinovich (running in a two-way DFL primary in HD 10B), Rick Olseen (HD 32B), Paul Rosenthal (HD 49B) and John Schultz (SD 12).

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