GRAFTON — State Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton, conceded defeat Wednesday to Sen. Mary J. Wilhelm, D-Cresco for the new District 26 Senate seat.
The race was decided by 120 votes with more than 30,000 votes cast.
Complete but unofficial results from the new seven-county district showed Wilhelm with 15,511 votes to 15,391 for Bartz, a 120-vote margin out of 30,920 votes cast. There were 18 write-in votes.
Bartz said Tuesday night he considered the outcome “undetermined” but he reconsidered Wednesday.
“I congratulate Sen. Wilhelm on her victory,” he said in a news release.
“She ran a stellar campaign and I wish her the best in her service next January.”
Bartz said he and his family wanted to thank all his volunteers and supporters.
“We have analyzed the 120 vote margin in conjunction with additional provisional and absentee ballots that are being and may be received and do not believe they would change the outcome and have chosen to not seek a recount,” said Bartz.
“I continue to be troubled by the ongoing criminal investigation into voter fraud in Floyd County but do not believe that prolonging the election until the prosecution is finished is in the best interest of the citizens of this district or of this state.”
Wilhelm said Wednesday she will hold regular listening posts throughout her district.
“I plan to continue doing what I’ve done in the past. I like to hold listening posts in county seat towns and alternate them with listening posts in some of the smaller towns in the district,” she said.
“It is an opportunity for the citizens to learn what is going on but, just as important, it is an opportunity for me to learn.”
Wilhelm is a professional appraiser. She served 12 years on the Howard County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Senate four years ago.
Senate District 26 includes Worth, Mitchell, Howard, Floyd and Chickasaw counties and parts of Winneshiek and Cerro Gordo counties.