Challenger Reinert outpolls incumbent Larson in Duluth mayoral primary

a man speaks in front of an American flag
Duluth mayoral candidate Roger Reinert addresses supporters Tuesday night after coming out atop a five-way primary that included incumbent Mayor Emily Larson. Reinert and Larson will appear on November’s ballot.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

A challenger comfortably topped Duluth’s two-term incumbent in a mayoral primary Tuesday.

Former state Sen. Roger Reinert earned the most votes and Mayor Emily Larson secured the second spot. The two will face off on November’s general election ballot.

Reinert got 63 percent of the primary vote and Larson had 35 percent in a five-way race.

Issues in the campaign include housing affordability, the condition of streets and property taxes. Larson ran with the backing of Gov. Tim Walz and the DFL Party’s endorsement, even though the office is technically nonpartisan.

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Reinert served in the Legislature as a DFLer until 2017 but said he’d run without party backing in this race.

“I'm willing to talk to anybody who's willing to talk to me, and I will work with anybody willing to work with me,” Reinert said Tuesday night after the results were in. “I'm not an ideologue. I've never been. I'm a very practical public servant. And at the local level, that's a place where you can really be that.” 

Larson is vying to be the city’s first three-term mayor in about two decades.

She didn’t make public remarks to supporters after polls closed but issued a written statement.

“Now that there are two candidates, Duluth has a clear choice between facing our challenges and progressing forward together, building on the work we’ve done to make Duluth a leader in the state, or going nowhere on critical issues like housing, childcare, climate change and jobs,” Larson said.