If there’s such a thing as political dynasties in local politics, then the Lourey family is undoubtedly one of them. The Loureys have had a hold on Minnesota Senate District 11 since 1997, when former State Sen. Becky Lourey first won the seat.
After a decade in office, Becky Lourey retired from politics and was succeeded by her son, former State Sen. Tony Lourey, who was tapped to oversee the Minnesota Department of Human Services by Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) in early January.
Now, Stu Lourey (Stu), son of Tony Lourey and grandson of Becky Lourey, is looking to carry on the family tradition and continue the Lourey family’s 20-plus year control of Senate District 11, which was previously District 8.
Stu announced his candidacy on January 3, and was instantly cast as an outsider by Republicans because of his time working in Washington, D.C.
“At 1:00 today, Stu Lourey was working on policy in D.C. At 3:58, he’s committed to public service. Quick turnaround,” GOP operative Spencer Krier wrote on Twitter. The hashtag “DCStu” later started to spread in conservative Twitter circles.
Up until declaring candidacy, Stu was working as a legislative aide for Sen. Tina Smith’s (D-MN) office, and had served in a similar role before that for former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). In total, he spent two years and eight months working in the U.S. Senate, according to his LinkedIn page.
Stu managed to defeat his primary opponent, Democrat Michelle Lee, who outmaneuvered Stu for the DFL’s endorsement. DFL Chairman Ken Martin announced on January 19 that the party would be endorsing Lee over Stu.
“I’m excited to work with Michelle as she brings her strong progressive message to voters across the district and her passion and experience to our state legislature,” Martin said, but just three days later his party’s endorsed candidate was defeated in the primaries.
The reason for Lee’s loss probably had something to do with Stu’s $26,000 cash advantage.
Lee brought in $2,410 during her short-lived campaign, a slightly below average amount of donations for a local election, though it paled in comparison to the money pouring in for Stu. According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board (CFB), Stu has raised $28,523 since January 3, a third of which has come from family members and their political committees.
Seven relatives, including Stu’s parents, have made donations of at least $500 or more. Stu himself has donated $1,021 to his campaign, while his dad’s committee made a donation of $4,366. In total, the Loureys have donated $9,887 to Stu’s campaign, or 34 percent of the $28,523 raised.
The following is a breakdown of familial donations* to the campaign:
- Ben Lourey: $500
- Heidi Lourey: $1,000
- Becky Lourey: $1,000
- Stu Lourey: $1,021
- Tim Lourey: $500
- Tony Lourey (Stu’s father): $500
- Mariana Benzie-Lourey (Stu’s mother): $500
- Sandy Peterson-Lourey: $500
- Tony Lourey Senate District 11 Committee: $4,366
Stu’s opponent, Rep. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City), has raised a total of $5,247—$4,640 less than the amount of money the Lourey family alone has donated to Stu’s campaign. Other donations have come from employees of Nemadji Research Corp., a Lourey family business founded by the late Gene Lourey, husband of former Sen. Becky Lourey and Stu’s grandpa.
Attorneys Charles Nauen and Herald Grindal of Lockridge Grindal Nauen LLP each donated $500 a piece. Nauen is the DFL’s attorney.
The DFL is now backing Stu’s bid to replace his father, and congratulated him on his victory in the primary.
“As a lifelong resident of the district, Stu has deep ties to the area and shares a strong bond with its residents,” Martin said in a press release. “I’ve known Stu Lourey for years and know him as a brilliant and engaged leader and I’m confident that on February 5, voters will show the state of Minnesota that they believe Stu is the best candidate to represent Senate District 11.”
Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan door-knocked with Stu on Sunday, but not all Minnesota Democrats are happy with his campaign.
“The DFL ‘endorsed’ her [Lee] last week, but the party operatives worked behind the scenes to help in the primary,” University of Minnesota Law Professor Richard Painter claimed on Twitter. “Why? His family has held this state senate seat for two generations and they want to make it three. Corrupt.”
*Note: To access the campaign finance reports cited in this article, follow the following steps: first, visit the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board website found here. Then, select “current special elections” under the “Reports & Data” heading. Next, select “click for index,” and then choose a candidate’s name.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photos “Becky Lourey” and Tony Lourey” by MN State Legislature; “Stu Lourey” by Stu Lourey.