Race continues among District 51A Republicans

51A republican candidates

With two candidates finishing neck and neck at the District 51 Republican convention earlier this month, the race in Minnesota House District 51A continues.

Since neither candidate reached 60 percent of delegate votes, Eagan resident Andrea Todd-Harlin and Burnsville resident Victor Lake will again face off at a convention in April.

No date has been set, party officials say. If no endorsement is reached at that convention, the race could go to the August primary election. The nominee will  face Rep. Sandra Masin, DFL-Eagan, in the November election.

A Mendota Heights native, Todd-Harlin isn’t new to public office. She has served on the Eagan Parks Commission for the past four years.

Todd-Harlin said she plans to focus her campaign on education, specifically K-12 funding, tax policies and health care reform.

A critic of MNSURE, the state insurance exchange, Todd-Harlin said she believes the program needs to be reformed.

And she knows the health care industry well.

“We need a sound, market-oriented solution that enhances health care,” she said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in health care from the University of Minnesota, she went on to earn a master’s in epidemiology in 2000 from the London School of Hygiene.

Soon after she was hired as an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, where she worked for three years before taking a job in the private sector.

By 2007, Todd-Harlin decided to take a break from the health care industry to stay home with her young children. Though she is no longer working as an epidemiologist, Todd-Harlin didn’t leave the industry entirely. She taught part time at Argosy University for a year and recently began a consulting company.

Lake, a native of Uzbekistan, is a small-business owner in Burnsville.

He did not respond to  repeated requests for an interview.

The extended endorsement process is relatively common, especially in close two-party races, said Matt Pagano, political director of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

“It’s a very contested seat this year,” Pagano said. “The Democratic candidate is seen as vulnerable.”

The district’s reputation as a swing district makes it hotly contested, he said.

After serving two terms in the House, Masin was defeated in 2010 by Rep. Diane Anderson, R-Eagan, during a Republican sweep election. Masin then regained her seat during a Democratic sweep in 2012.

“It’s not a safe area for either party,” Pagano said. “It’s a very integral part of taking the majority in the House,” he said.