Schmit defeats HoweIn a close — and closely watched — race, Democratic challenger Matt Schmit claimed victory in the state Senate District 21 seat over incumbent Republican John Howe.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
In a close — and closely watched — race, Democratic challenger Matt Schmit claimed victory in the state Senate District 21 seat over incumbent Republican John Howe.
“It’s an indication that hard work and a positive message mean something,” Schmit said early Wednesday morning.
As of press time, with 86 of 87 precincts reporting, Schmit led with 21,744 votes (52.43 percent) and Howe had 19,680 votes (47.45 percent). Howe called to congratulate Schmit early Wednesday morning, both candidates said.
Schmit won the top votes in Red Wing’s precincts and fared well throughout much of Goodhue County. He said he wasn’t too surprised by the results.
“We’ve knocked on 30,000 doors,” he said. “This is what we’ve been seeing at those doors. Folks really liked our message.”
Howe said he believed his record as a moderate should have carried him through the race.
“It was an honor and privilege to serve as a state senator,” Howe said. “I think I worked very hard to represent the district. … I think most people know that I’m very positive and took the job seriously.”
Looking ahead, Schmit said one of his main priorities in the coming session is balancing the state’s budget for good.
“We’ve got to make some tough decisions,” he said.
Property tax relief and working together also are key issues, he said.
“We can’t have the kind of gridlock we’ve had in the past years,” Schmit said. “We can’t have another government shutdown.”
Overall, Schmit said his message seems to have resounded with area voters.
“We’re very proud of our campaign,” he said. “I think this is what we were shooting for and it’s good to see it come to fruition here.”
Howe touched on the bitter campaigning that clouded much of the race.
The state Republican Party sent out several mailings in the final week of the campaign attacking Schmit for his careless driving conviction, among other things.
“I do think something needs to be done with the independent expenditures,” Howe said. “Candidates have no control over what is being spent or what is being said.”
Much of the negative literature and advertisements came from groups outside the candidates’ official campaigns.
Howe said his personal plans mainly include focusing on his family and to “continue to work to help the community.”
“I wish Matt Schmit the best and certainly would be willing to help him,” Howe said.