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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 03 2010

Recount may decide District 45

In a race that may be eligible for an automatic recount, Republican Joe Heilman and Democrat Ed Gruchalla won election in North Dakota House District 45 on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results from three of three precincts, Heilman received 31 percent, or 2,362 votes, to top the four-person field. Incumbent Gruchalla received 25.4 percent, or 1,930 votes, to place second. Only 8 votes separated Gruchalla and Andrew Marschall, who received 25.3 percent, or 1,922 votes, to place third. Prairie Rose Seminole received 18.18 percent, or 1,381 votes, to place fourth.

For a general election, state law calls for an automatic recount if an individual fails to be elected by a half percent or less of the vote cast for the candidate receiving the most votes for the office sought.

On Tuesday night, the secretary of state’s website said the race may qualify for an automatic recount.

Gruchalla thought he lost Tuesday and was headed home, but when he heard news from the late results, he returned to a celebration party at the Fargo Ramada.

“Right now, I’m thrilled,” said Gruchalla, who was at a loss for words.

In the state Senate race, Republican challenger Ron Sorvaag led with 56 percent to Democrat Tom Fiebiger’s 43 percent.

Sorvaag had 2,384 votes to Fiebiger’s 1,834.

District 45 includes portions of Fargo north of 12th Avenue North and communities to the north, such as Harwood, Reiles Acres and North River.

Heilman, 25, said the three Republicans had a goal early on to outwork their competition.

“It’s a combination of hard work, a sign of the times, and people wanted some change,” said Heilman, an account manager for Pedigree Technologies.

Gruchalla, 63, retired from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said he wants to continue working on public safety legislation.

Marschall, 47, co-owner of Three Lyons Pub, West Fargo, said education, jobs and Fargo flood protection will be his top priorities.

Sorvaag, 56, a partner in First Choice Embroidery & Apparel, said voters liked his team’s emphasis on being good stewards with taxpayer money.

“I’m excited to just get there and go to work,” said Sorvaag, who also serves on the Fargo Park Board.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590