5 things to know today: Legal action, Stepping down, Political milestone, Primary turnout, Clinic move
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Former Clay County Republicans chair loses state Senate primary, faces legal action from Minnesota GOP
The ousted chair of Clay County Republicans is facing legal action from the Minnesota GOP and has lost his bid to be the Republican candidate in a pivotal state Senate race in November.
Edwin Hahn was beaten handily by Republican-endorsed candidate Dan Bohmer for state Senate in District 4 in Minnesota's primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
With all precincts reporting, Bohmer received 72.5% of the vote to Hahn's 27.5%, in unofficial results from the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.
Bohmer's win sets up a contest in November between him and DFL candidate Rob Kupec, who ran unopposed Tuesday, for the District 4 seat being vacated by retiring longtime Democratic Sen. Kent Eken.
On Monday, the Republican Party of Minnesota announced in a news release that it initiated legal action against Hahn for continuing to represent himself as a local party officer and refusing to return party property.
2. North Dakota transportation director to step down
Bill Panos, the director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, will step down on Sept. 9 after three years in the position. He cited family obligations in his home state of California as the reason for his resignation.
The agency's deputy director of engineering, Ron Henke, will serve as interim director.
Gov. Doug Burgum announced Panos' resignation on Wednesday, Aug. 10. The Republican governor appointed Panos, the former director of Wyoming's transportation department, to lead North Dakota's transportation agency in August 2019.
“Under Bill’s outstanding leadership, the Department of Transportation has made significant progress in many areas including traffic safety, strategic planning and improved access for constituents, especially to online services,” Burgum said in a news release.
3. Voters poised to send first openly trans person to Minnesota Legislature
From MPR News via Forum News Service
A milestone victory Tuesday night could send the first transgender person to Minnesota’s Legislature.
Video production company owner Leigh Finke prevailed in her DFL primary for an open House seat in the St. Paul area. She’ll be the favorite heading into November’s election.
Finke won more than 60 percent of the primary vote for district 66A, which includes portions of St. Paul, Roseville, Falcon Heights and Lauderdale, defeating Dave Thomas in a district that reliably votes for DFL candidates.
“The idea of being able to vote for yourself as the first trans person you've ever seen on the ballot is, I mean, it's special,” Finke told MPR News. “We're around and we deserve representation, and we have a lot of work to do to let people know what it means to have an inclusive government, to have an inclusive state and to protect everyone.”
Finke said if she is elected in November she will work to push back against legislation that would marginalize people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. She said being at the legislative table is critical as restrictive bills arise.
4. Early count shows strong, but not record-breaking turnout in Minnesota primary
Final counts from Minnesota’s primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 9, are yet to be certified, but Secretary of State Steve Simon said voter turnout appeared to be "relatively strong" compared to other years.
More than 18% of eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2022 primary, according to preliminary counts from the Secretary of State's Office. Preliminary results show more than 700,000 people cast votes for the Republican and Democratic Farmer Labor gubernatorial candidates. Those numbers could change as local elections officials across the state certify their results, and the final official turnout will likely not be available until after November when the updated number of eligible voters becomes available.
Primary elections, where voters of each party select their final candidates, typically have a significantly lower turnout than the November general election. Minnesota has had nation-leading voter turnout in its last three general elections, reaching nearly 80% in 2020. As of Aug. 3, there were 3,561,194 registered voters in Minnesota.
5. Red River Women's Clinic opens at new Moorhead location
North Dakota's only abortion clinic has reopened in a new location in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota.
The Red River Women's Clinic opened in an office building at 302 Highway 75 N. on Wednesday, Aug. 10.
There is no exterior sign advertising the clinic at this point, but a buzzer in the secure entryway of the building was labeled as such.
The clinic's move to Moorhead signifies the end of abortion care in North Dakota unless the state's abortion ban is overturned.
Protesters and clinic escorts were outside the downtown Fargo clinic location Wednesday morning. It's unclear if appointments were being offered at both locations.