UPDATE: Victory nearly assured for District 30's Zimmerman
With nearly all ballots counted, River Falls businessman Shannon Zimmerman appears to be the Republican primary election winner in Assembly District 30.
Zimmerman beat Paul Berning 1,266 to 998 in St. Croix County with all precincts reporting. Zimmerman led 236-114 in Pierce County, where just four precincts in River Falls had yet to be counted as of 10:19 p.m. Tuesday.
Zimmerman thanked Berning, saying he has “the highest level of respect” for him.
“He is a passionate, hard-working individual,” Zimmerman said of Berning. “It was a wonderful race. I think he did a great job.”
He said his campaign supporters helped put him over the top in the primary.
“I give every bit of credit to them,” Zimmerman said.
He said he’ll focus on shoring up party unity as he turns his eye to the fall election.
For Zimmerman, that means talking about his plans for education and economic development.
“Those (issues) are just natural,” he said, “and I think they just resonate with Republicans and Democrats alike.”
The seat came into play for Republicans in January when incumbent Rep. Dean Knudson of Hudson announced he would not seek re-election.
Zimmerman announced his candidacy in February.
The town of Clifton resident -- who said he would change his main residence to River Falls if elected -- co-owns River Falls-based Sajan Inc. with his wife, Angel.
The 44-year-old told RiverTown Multimedia in July that he would put his experience in the business world to work for the state by helping to create jobs.
Berning, a Hudson resident, was the first Republican to announce his bid for the seat.
The 35-year-old is a life insurance agent and investment representative based out of Hudson. He told RiverTown in July that reciprocity is one issue affecting District 30 that he’d like to tackle as a lawmaker.
The winner moves on to face Democrat Scott Nelson in the general election. The Republican candidate and Nelson -- a St. Croix County Board member from the town of Hudson -- will be joined on the November ballot by independent Aaron Taylor of River Falls.