Republican federal, state candidates dominate in Hubbard County

State Sen. Paul Utke, who has re-elected to a second term for District 2, said the election night win was "extremely humbling."

A line formed outside of the Hubbard County Government Center on Election Day. Voters said there was 15-20 minute wait. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

It was a Republican sweep in Hubbard County.

Hubbard County voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump. With 89 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning, 7,524 ballots (64.15%) were cast for Trump, while Joe Biden received 3,940 (33.59%). The Libertarian Party landed in third place with 119 votes, or 1 percent. American rapper Kanye West received 27 votes.

Health insurance was key

Ben Erie, 34, lives in Park Rapids and runs a mental health clinic. He voted at city hall around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.

“I voted for Joe Biden and Tina Smith,” Erie said. “I’m actually a centrist. I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans in the past. But I think, simply because of the chaos, I voted, basically, a straight ticket, DFL.”

The Affordable Care Act was a key issue for him. “I own a small business myself, so I get insurance with the ACA,” he said. “The other thing that I think is really important is, I just don’t want to wake up terrified in the morning. I just want to be able to have normal governance.”


Erie also voted “yes” on both Park Rapids Area Schools bonding questions.

Regarding why he chose to vote in person, he said, “I’ve voted in person since I was 18. So, it’s just a ritual. I’m concerned about the COVID virus, but given the fact that wearing a mask … they do a great job here.”

As far as Erie could tell, COVID-19 didn’t slow down the voting process.

“Normally, I end up voting after work,” he said, “but today, I voted before work. I would say it took me the same time, just in and out.”

Scared of Biden win

Sarah Gamache, 23, of Park Rapids is a student at Northwest Technical College in Bemidji. She exercised her right to vote for the first time around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at city hall.

“I’ve never voted before,” she said. “I really want Trump to win. That is the only race.”

Gamache said no specific issue drove her to the polls. “I’m just scared what happens if Biden gets in,” she said. “I don’t know. I don’t really do politics.”

As to why she voted in person, she said, “I don’t really trust the whole mailing system with the votes. I feel like it’s better to vote in person, personally.”


Going to the polls in a golf cart

Brandon Hemenway and his wife, Erika, vote in Hubbard Township. They drove from their place near the Hubbard beach in their golf cart to vote in the Hubbard Town Hall. Their daughters – Aubreigh, 3, and Henlee, 1 – rode along.

“We didn’t have anyone to leave them with,” Brandon said. “I got time off work and voted in person because that’s the way I’ve always done it and I’m close by. I’ve voted every time I could since I turned 18. The voting was set up pretty good. Everyone had masks and were distanced inside so we’re not worried about COVID.”

Brandon Hemenway and his wife Erika drove their golf cart to cast ballots in Hubbard Township. Future voters Aubreigh, 3, and Henlee, 1, rode along on the family outing from their home just down the road. (Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise)

Voting curbside

Buzz Johanning, 64, lives in Hubbard Township.

“I am voting in person because that’s what I’ve always done,” he said. “I’m voting curbside because I can’t stand to wear a mask.”

While he did not want to say how he voted, when asked what he thought was the most important issue in this election, he replied, “This COVID crap.”


Election judge Laura Kujawa, left, and head judge Jeri Johanning, right, witness voter Buzz Johanning as he fills out paperwork for curbside voting in Hubbard Township. (Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise)

Lewis was favored in Hubbard County

Jason Lewis beat Tina Smith in Hubbard County’s unofficial results for the U.S. Senate seat, but Smith won the state overall. Lewis earned 7,089 votes (61.16%) in the county, with Smith trailing at 3,767 (32.50%).

517 voters (4.46%) cast ballots for Kevin O’Connor of Legal Marijuana Now. Oliver Steinberg of Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis had 212 votes (1.83%).

Stauber re-elected

Republican-endorsed incumbent Pete Stauber won the 8th Congressional District, beating DFL-endorsed challenger Quinn Nystrom. Unofficially, Hubbard County voters cast 7,400 (64.14%) for Stauber. Nystrom received 3,503 (30.36%).

Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Judith Schwartzbacker got 624 votes (5.41%).

State Legislature

Paul Utke will return to the Minnesota Senate, winning District 2 with 28,279 (65.33%) votes. Ninety-nine percent of precincts had reported, as of Wednesday morning.


DFL challenger Alan Roy received 14,949, or 34.53%, of votes cast.

The ratio held true within Hubbard County results as well. Utke received 7,803 votes (68.11%) in the county, while Roy lagged with 3,649 (31.85%).

Utke said, “I am honored to be able to continue representing the people of Senate District 2. The past four years have been a privilege, and the feeling of winning the race on election night is extremely humbling. To know that the people of this district approve of my performance and continue to trust me with the job of advocating on their behalf is gratifying. I want to thank all those that supported me with their vote and also thank the many volunteers that help in so many ways. Above all, I want to thank my family who has always supported me in this endeavor.”

District 2 State Sen. Paul Utke
Joel Maxwell

Mathew Grossell (R-Clearbrook) defeated challenger Jeremiah Liend (DFL - Turtle River) for House District 2A. Unofficial results show Grossell with 13,383 votes (62.71%) and Liend with 7,925 (37.14%). In Hubbard County, Grossell won with 3,654 (67.26%) votes versus Liend’s 1,774 (32.65%).

House District 2B incumbent Steve Green (R-Fosston) was re-elected, garnering 14,462 votes (66.25%) across the district. DFL challenger David Suby received 7,346 (33.65%). In Hubbard County, Green attracted 65.82% of the votes, or 3,929. Thirty-four percent, or 2,034 voters, cast their ballots for Suby.


In House District 5A, Matt Bliss (R-Pennington) defeated incumbent John Persell (DFL-Bemidji). A sliver of Hubbard County is part of District 5A. Bliss received 35 votes, Persell 26 from county voters.

What To Read Next
Get Local