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Wendy Reuer, Published February 24 2012

Marquart, Eken adjust to Minnesota’s political redistricting

MOORHEAD – A pastor at a church here withdrew his campaign for the state Senate on Friday, clearing the DFL ticket for Rep. Kent Eken of Twin Valley.

Eken announced on Friday he will seek the Senate seat held by Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, since 1980. Langseth isn’t seeking re-election.

When a panel of five judges released new legislative maps earlier this week, Senate District 9 was redrawn as District 4 – a switch that would have put Eken and fellow Democrat Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth in the same House district.

“We’re not going to run against each other, we’re friends,” Marquart said.

Marquart said he will run for re-election to the House in November in District 4B, which includes Norman and Clay counties – with the exception of Moorhead.

“He does have seniority in the House. He puts that seniority to good use,” Eken said of Marquart, first elected in 2000. Eken was first elected two years later.

The former District 9 included Clay, Wilkin and Traverse counties. Matt Valan, senior pastor at The Lutheran Church of Christ the King in Moorhead, said the redistricting loss of Wilkin County changed his campaign. Valan lives near the boundary lined between Clay and Wilkin counties.

“I felt my district had changed in a significantly enough way I would reconsider,” Valan said.

Valan said he also wanted to support Marquart or Eken if they chose to seek a Senate seat.

“He contacted us, we never contacted him,” Eken said. “I think Matt would have been an outstanding candidate for that position.”

Like Marquart, Eken is a teacher. He graduated from Twin Valley High School and Concordia College. He and his wife, Lori, also a teacher, have four children.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530


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