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Franson wins GOP endorsement

Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria, the Republican incumbent in House District 8B, won a hard-fought battle for her party's endorsement Saturday in Henning.

At the Republican endorsing convention, Franson won with 60 percent of the vote in a contest with challenger Sue Nelson of rural Perham after several rounds of voting, according to Bill Schulz, secretary of the Republican Party of Otter Tail County.

District 8B includes the Otter Tail County portion of Wadena.

Also, District 8A Representative Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls was endorsed to be the GOP candidate. He was unopposed.

Ex files lawsuit

An ex-boyfriend of Franson filed a defamation lawsuit against her last week.

Eric Harpel, chairman of the McLeod County Republican Party, claimed his reputation was ruined by false statements Franson made while filing a harassment restraining order against him in 2012.

The same day, Franson filed an answer to the lawsuit, denying all of Harpel's allegations and asking Judge David Battey to dismiss the case.

When contacted by the Echo Press, Franson sent the following statement:

"Given the fact that Mr. Harpel and I ended our relationship years ago, my children and I deserve to live free of the anxiety Mr. Harpel brings into our lives.

"It should be noted that I'm not the only person Mr. Harpel has tried to intimidate through the court system," Franson added. "In February, a judge dismissed a lawsuit Mr. Harpel had filed in September against a retired woman in McLeod County. I'm optimistic we'll have a similar result in this case."

Franson filed the restraining order in May 2012 and dismissed it a couple months later with the understanding that the matter would be resolved outside the courtroom.

The order alleged that Harpel was stalking her in person and online. Franson claimed that he sent her lewd e-mails, was spying on her and was preying on her daughter.

Harpel filed the defamation suit in Douglas County District Court four days before the House District 8B endorsing convention.

The lawsuit claims that Franson knew that her statements against him were false. It contains four counts, each alleging damages of at least $50,000.

In addition to defamation, he accused Franson of hacking into his computer and removing more than 50 stored communications; breach of contract for not paying back money he allegedly borrowed to her; and promissory estoppel for not paying back a loan that he claims she promised to repay.