Hermantown Mayor Wayne Boucher and labor organizer Keith Musolf advanced in the race to fill a seat on the St. Louis County Board.
In complete but unofficial returns from Tuesday's 5th District primary, Boucher took 30 percent of the vote, while Musolf captured 28 percent. The two men will square off in the Aug. 13 special general election to replace now-U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber.
"I'm grateful for everyone who has helped me and supported me," Boucher said shortly after 10 p.m. "I've had lots of good help and support from the community, and I really appreciate it. ... I've been hitting it hard since I filed and I plan to campaign the same way — like I'm behind — because it's very important to me to be the person ready to take that seat."
Boucher has spent nearly two decades in elected office. Musolf, on the other hand, is mounting his first campaign.
"It's surreal to me. This being my first venture into politics, it already feels like a win just because of that," Musolf told the News Tribune. "Hard work — that's how I've treated it. Similar to my background, coming from the construction trades, we find success by reaching out and talking to as many people as possible."
Boucher, 65, has served as Hermantown mayor for more than a decade, having first been elected to the City Council in 2000. He spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, retiring from the Hermantown Police Department in 2009.
Musolf, 35, lives in Midway Township. He has lived in the district for more than 20 years and is a union organizer with Ironworkers Local 512 in Hermantown.
The 5th District represents the cities of Hermantown, Proctor and Rice Lake, along with Brevator, Canosia, Duluth, Gnesen, Lakewood, Midway and Solway townships.
The six-way special primary election garnered exceptionally low turnout. Unofficially, 1,138 ballots were cast from the 19,265 residents registered to vote at the start of the day — about 6 percent turnout.
Also on the ballot were trucking equipment salesman Timothy Herstad, who received 20 percent; former Hermantown Mayor Keith MacDonald (13 percent); recent college graduate Kal Randa (5 percent); and carpenter and Lakewood Township supervisor Robert "Bobby" Wagner (4 percent).
The winner of the August special election will be seated immediately. The job of St. Louis County commissioner pays $63,648.70 annually.
The 5th District seat will be up for election again in November 2020, this time for a full, four-year term.