Miller plans long-shot run against fellow Republican Rasmusson and Democrat Cornell Walker

By Louis Hoglund

Nathan Miller
Jordan Rasmusson
Cornell Walker

The race for State Senate District 9 has become slightly murky, with a written announcement that a third candidate is launching a write-in campaign. 

After narrowly losing the August Republican State Senate 9 primary against Jordan Rasmusson, Nathan Miller purchased an ad in the Pelican Rapids Press Sept. 15. He announced that voters in Senate District 9, “have the option to write in their vote for honorable representation without being forced to extinguish the flame of truth that burns in their hearts.” 

In a rare inner-party challenge, Rasmusson defeated Miller by a margin of fewer than 400 votes, in August. The totals were 5,738-5,385. 

Evidently, after a month of contemplation, Miller has decided to run a write-in campaign. 

Miller’s write-in candidacy is announced, but technically, not official. 

As of press time, Sept. 19, the Otter Tail County auditor’s office has not received an official “write-in candidate” notification. Registration is required by the Minnesota Secretary of State-elections division. 

The deadline for a write-in candidacy for the legislature is November 1, so Miller still has over a month to file. 

A write-in for a legislative seat is highly uncommon, and an uphill challenge for a write-in to get their name out in circulation. In the case of State Senate District 9, the district spans five counties—Wilkin, Otter Tail, Traverse, and Grant—plus part of Douglas County. The district stretches from the outskirts of Barnesville and Wadena and follows the North Dakota border all the way southwest to Browns Valley. 

Write-in candidacies are, as the name implies. The name won’t appear on the ballot, so voters must manually write in the candidate. 

Battle Lake area Republican Miller rode a conservative wave into the primary, wearing red-white-blue shirts, a western hat—and a handgun holstered on his hip, at many appearances. 

He and conservative followers have questioned the Otter Tail County process that led to Rasmusson’s official party endorsement. In his letter, Miller repeated a request for an independent audit of the Otter Tail endorsement process and delegate counts. State Republican party officials have stood behind Rasmusson, as the officially endorsed Republican candidate. 

In his write-in announcement letter, Miller criticized the “establishment” Republicans—describing them as the “status quo, business as usual wing of the party.”

“…We are at a pivotal time in this country and state if we want to save it from the crushing debt, anti-God, anti-Constitution, and anti-American agenda that is being pushed on us,” wrote Miller. 

Miller’s announcement drew a string of social media comments on the “Otter Tail County Conservative Coalition” site. The official Republican Party of Otter Tail County had no reference to the inner party challenge. To date, there hasn’t been an official response from the Rasmusson campaign, or on the Rasmusson Facebook site. 

Miller supporters, in many cases, never removed the “Miller Time” signs that appeared across the countryside. 

Rasmusson has touted a long list of endorsements, ranging from fellow legislators to anti-abortion groups to gun rights organizations. Rasmusson also points to his “proven conservative credentials,” and experience as a first-term legislator in the Minnesota State House.

For Miller and his followers—more than 5,000 of them, based on the August primary turnout—Rasmusson apparently isn’t exactly the kind of conservative they had in mind. 

If Miller formally files as a write-in, the official ballot in November will be Republican Rasmusson and his opponent, Democrat Cornell Walker. Below those names will be a blank slate—in which Miller and his allies hope will be the hand-written name: Nathan Miller.