While the blue wave may have hit the breakers in other parts of the country, it crashed into Minnesota hard last night.
Every statewide Democratic-Farmer Labor (DFL) candidate won and – with the exception of Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison – did so by larger than expected margins. This was primarily driven by large turnout in the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also by a strong showing in the Third Congressional District. These two factors, combined with narrow margins in the First and Eighth Congressional Districts, made for a good night state-wide for the DFL.
Tim Walz/Peggy Flanagan (DFL): 1,392,321; 53.84% defeat
Jeff Johnson/Donna Bergstrom (GOP): 1,097,324; 42.43%
Walz/Flanagan, as expected, posted extremely strong numbers in CD5, winning by over 200,000 votes. They also won in CDs 1, 2, 3, and 4 and came very close to winning in CD8. Johnson/Bergstrom needed to run up the score in CD8 (they won it by just under 5,700 votes) and limit the damage in CD5. Neither of these happened. Further, a big margin for Walz/Flanagan in CD3 (almost 44,000 votes) all but neutralized the GOP-heavy CD6 returns.
Ultimately, the DFL delivered on what they said was a winning formula: drive up turnout in CDs 4 and 5 and limit the margins elsewhere. On a night where the DFL base was clearly more motivated than the GOP’s was, and suburban voters showed a preference for the DFL as well, there was no path for GOP statewide candidates forward. This is most clearly illustrated by looking at the other statewide races:
US Senate (full-term)
Amy Klobuchar (DFL): 1,565,388; 60.30% defeats
Jim Newberger (GOP): 940,132; 36.22%
US Senate (special election)
Tina Smith (DFL): 1,369,828; 52.96% defeats
Karin Housley (GOP): 1,095,419; 42.35%
Secretary of State
Steve Simon (DFL): 1,327,762; 52.25% defeats
John Howe (GOP): 1,108,629; 43.62%
Julie Blaha (DFL): 1,250,060; 49.35% defeats
Pam Myhra (GOP): 1,094,945; 42.33%
Keith Ellison (DFL): 1,248,760; 48.96%
Doug Wardlow (GOP): 1,150,070; 45.09%
With the exception of Jim Newberger, all statewide GOP candidates were within 56,000 votes of each other. There are many possible explanations for this, most of which we may not know for weeks or months. It does appear, however, that the GOP was able to motivate its base state-wide to vote for them – but not many others. This is especially apparent in the Attorney General’s race, where even though it was significantly closer than others, over 5% of voters chose Noah Johnson of the Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis Party rather than voting for either of the major party candidates. (Tangentially, so long as the GLC Party received one vote in every county, it will be recognized as a major party in Minnesota moving forward, granting it ballot access and candidate subsidies).
Where the wave was most apparent, however, was in the battle for the State House of Representatives. The GOP entered the night with a 77-57 majority. Election Day ended with 18 seats changing parties and a 75-59 DFL majority. The DFL picked up nearly every swing district and, with the exception of two, they were all in the suburbs. Several were close races: Six decided by two points or fewer and three more were within five points. It is worthwhile to note, however, that the House GOP also won three races decided by two points or less.
These were the pickups:
05A: John Persell (DFL) defeats Rep. Matt Bliss (GOP) (Note: Persell won by 4 votes. There were 7 write-ins. There will be an automatic recount here.)
14B: Dan Wolgamott (DFL) defeats Rep. Jim Knoblach (GOP)
33B: Kelly Morrison (DFL) defeats Rep. Cindy Pugh (GOP)
34B: Kristin Bahner (DFL) defeats Rep. Dennis Smith (GOP)
36A: Zach Stephenson (DFL) defeats Bill Maresh (GOP) (Open seat – GOP)
38B: Ami Wazlawik (DFL) defeats Patti Anderson (GOP) (Open seat – GOP)
39B: Shelly Christensen (DFL) defeats Rep. Kathy Lohmer (GOP)
42A: Kelly Moeller (DFL) defeats Rep. Randy Jessup (GOP)
44A: Ginny Klevorn (DFL) defeats Rep. Sarah Anderson (GOP)
48B: Carlie Kotzya-Witthuhn (DFL) defeats Rep. Jenifer Loon (GOP)
49A: Heather Edelson (DFL) defeats Rep. Dario Anselmo (GOP)
52B: Ruth Richardson (DFL) defeats Rep. Regina Barr (GOP)
53B: Steve Sandell (DFL) defeats Rep. Kelly Fenton (GOP)
54A: Anne Claflin (DFL) defeats Rep. Keith Franke (GOP)
55A: Brad Tabke (DFL) defeats Erik Mortensen (GOP) (Open seat – GOP)
56A: Hunter Cantrell (DFL) defeats Rep. Drew Christensen (GOP) (Open seat – GOP)
56B: Alice Mann (DFL) defeats Rep. Roz Peterson (GOP)
57B: John Huot (DFL) defeats Rep. Anna Wills (GOP)
Current House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman will likely be elected Speaker when the House is gaveled in on January 8. 3
The State Senate remained in GOP hands, however, after Rep. Jeff Howe defeated Joe Perske in Senate District 13. This seat was open after Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach resigned earlier this year. Sen. Paul Gazelka will remain Senate Majority Leader for another two years.
One interesting note is that Minnesota will have the only divided legislature in the entire country; this will be the first time only one state has had a divided legislature since 1914. Additionally, every state that President Donald Trump won in 2016 is controlled legislatively by Republicans. Similarly, every state Hillary Clinton won (except Minnesota) is controlled legislatively by Democrats.
U.S. House of Representatives
Minnesota is now home to five freshman members of Congress. Three incumbents will be returning: Betty McCollum (CD4), Tom Emmer (CD6), and Collin Peterson (CD7). CD5 is the only other district that did not see a party change as a result of the election, as Ilhan Omar cruised to an expected victory there.
The DFL and GOP flip-flopped control of the other two Congressional Districts. For the Democrats, Dean Phillips comfortably defeated Rep. Erik Paulsen in CD3, and Angie Craig won a modest victory over Rep. Jason Lewis in CD2. Republicans Pete Stauber (CD8) and Jim Hagedorn (CD1) each won in their attempt to win an open seat formerly held by a DFLer. Please note: CD1 will be subject to a recount, as the margin of victory was less than .5%.
Nationally, House Republicans find themselves in the minority for the first time since 2010. While the Democratic majority is narrower than they hoped, it is still a majority and will allow them to be a check on – and investigate – President Trump. In the other chamber, it appears that Republicans will expand their Senate majority (by at least two, and perhaps three or four seats), allowing them a more comfortable margin for judicial confirmations.
Medical Alley Association looks forward to working with elected officials at all levels of government to enact policies cementing Medical Alley as the global epicenter of health innovation and care.