Murtaugh, Rasmussen advance

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ernie and Laurine Kabrud, left, listen as election judges Audree Wagner and Darlene Nistler explain how to fill out the ballot for the primary election at United Methodist Church Tuesday morning. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea voters on Tuesday selected incumbent Mayor Mike Murtaugh and 1st Ward Councilor Vern Rasmussen to advance to the Nov. 2 general election in the race for mayor.

Mike Murtaugh

According to final numbers released by the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office, Murtaugh won the election by 245 votes, receiving 1,631 votes compared to Rasmussen’s 1,386.

Former 5th Ward Councilor John Severtson received 255 votes.

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That means Murtaugh received 50 percent of the vote, Rasmussen 42 percent and Severtson 8 percent. Murtaugh led the votes in all wards except Ward 1, where he trailed by 55 votes.

Vern Rasmussen

“It’s obviously nice to come out on top, but the turnout (of a primary) doesn’t give you a real solid feel for what’s going on,” said Murtaugh, who heard about the results from his home. “I guess we’ll see. The big question yet is what’s going to happen given what’s happened to our family here in the last few days.”

Murtaugh announced last week he suspended his campaign because of concerns over his wife, Geri, the Tribune’s assistant editor. At the time, she was suffering from cancer in her brain, spine, liver and pelvis and had numerous strokes. She died Saturday.

John Severtson

Murtaugh said he still needs to make the decision about what he’s going to do from this point on in the race.

Rasmussen, who also heard about the results from home, thanked people for getting out and voting.

“I think it’s great for what we expected,” he said of the turnout. “I look forward to the chance to become the mayor of Albert Lea.”

He said he plans to continue forward with his campaign, talking to people and sharing his message.

Severtson said he was not surprised with the results and noted he still plans to stay active in the city upon his retirement in January.

He expressed his condolences to Murtaugh.

Look to the Tribune Wednesday afternoon for more about the city’s voter turnout.