Meet the Candidates for Minnesota House 5A

Featured photo, from left: John Persell and Matt Bliss. Graphic courtesy of Eric Callagan.

Two contenders are in the race to represent Minnesota House 5A, which encompasses part of Beltrami, Cass and Itasca Counties.


John Persell, the DFL-endorsed candidate, is the incumbent in this race, and was first elected in 2008, serving through 2016 when he was defeated by challenger Matt Bliss, but won again in 2018. Persell, a Vietnam veteran, has a long background in environmental services, working for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Leech Lake Band.


Matt Bliss, the Republican-endorsed candidate, is challenging Persell in this race, after narrowly losing the seat in 2018 by 11 votes. Bliss is a small business owner in Pennington and a military veteran. Bliss, prior to his victory to serve the House in 2016, once ran a campaign for Beltrami County Commissioner.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University.

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