School board member Virnig wins DFL primary for Minnesota House seat

a sign that reads vote here
A polling place in Eagan outside Trapp Farm Park in Eagan, Minn.
Emily Bright | MPR News

Area school board member Bianca Virnig won a four-way DFL special primary election Thursday for a suburban Minnesota House seat that came open with the resignation of the incumbent.

Virnig, of Eagan, topped three other DFL candidates to advance to a December general election for the House 52B seat. Virnig will face Republican Cynthia Lonnquist and Libertarian Charles Kuchlenz on Dec. 5.

The district spans parts of Eagan, Mendota and Mendota Heights. The Republican and Libertarian candidates did not face primary challengers.

Virnig has been a member of the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board since winning a seat in 2021. She was endorsed by several area legislators as well as some labor unions.

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Virnig had just shy of 40 percent of the vote in unofficial results. That was better than the 37 percent of teacher and Mendota Heights firefighter Jay Miller, who also had union backing. Cynthia Callais and Chris Whitfield were also on the ballot.

Former Rep. Ruth Richardson resigned the seat in September part way through her third term in the House. She is CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said Virnig had represented the region well on the school board and would make a strong contender for the seat.

“Bianca Virnig has devoted her career to giving back to our public schools and the families they serve,” Martin said in a news release. “We never take any special election outcome for granted and we will leave nothing on the table as we work to elect Bianca as Minnesota’s newest state legislator.”

Regardless of next month’s election outcome, the House DFL will enter the 2024 session with the majority. But the race will dictate how much breathing room the party has in the election-year session.