2020 Minnesota Election Update (Nov 10)
While there are still some uncertainties, it appears that the Minnesota State Senate will remain in control of the Republicans by a one or two vote margin. The State House will remain in DFL control, but by a tighter margin as Republicans gained four to six seats. DFL Governor Tim Walz was not up for re-election. He will be up for re-election in 2022.
With the Minnesota state races, absentee ballots will be counted for up to 7 days after the election, if they are postmarked by election day. These ballots are being added to the official vote tally, but are also being physically separated in case of a legal challenge. Because of this process, final results will not be known until November 10 or possibly later in the week. This update is provided with the caveat that things could change as additional absentee ballots are added to the results.
Before the Election: GOP Majority, 35 to 32.
After the Election: GOP Majority is likely to remain, but with a slimmer margin of 34 to 33.
The Minnesota Senate, prior to the election, was controlled by the GOP by three votes, with a flip in two seats necessary for the DFL to take control. A lot of attention and outside money was spent on targeted senate seats. Redistricting will take place in 2021 and the re-drawing of district maps is controlled by the legislative majority. That fact made this election especially important. Because of redistricting, the Senators are only running for two-year terms this cycle. The entire Senate will be elected again in their new districts in 2022.
The DFL won two suburban seats held by the GOP—SD44 and SD56 – and one Greater Minnesota seat – SD14. These districts were targeted as the seats most likely to flip. SD44 was held by retiring Senator Paul Anderson who was Chair of the Higher Education Committee and SD56 was held by Senator Dan Hall, the Chair of the Local Government Committee. SD14, which includes St. Cloud and surrounding communities, was held by Sen. Jerry Relph. To maintain its majority, however, the GOP beat two targeted DFL incumbents—Senator Dan Sparks (SD27) from Austin, and Senator Matt Little from Lakeville (SD58). Other closely contested Senate GOP seats were Senator Warren Limmer (SD34) in Maple Grove and in Rochester against Senators Dave Senjem (SD25) and Carla Nelson (SD26). All three seats were retained by the GOP.
Even though the election results are not final, Senate caucuses have already met and re-elected their leaders for next year. This includes Sen. Paul Gazelka as Senate Majority Leader for the Republicans and Sen. Susan Kent, Minority Leader for the Senate DFLers. With two committee chairs leaving the Senate, there will likely be some reshuffling of committee chair positions in the Senate.
Before the election: DFL Majority 75 to 59
After the election: DFL Majority, but by a slimmer margin ranging from (71-63) to (69-65)
The Minnesota House has been controlled by the DFL 75 seats to 59 seats. The GOP needed to flip nine net seats to take control. The DFL had hoped to add to its majority, but they did not defeat any GOP incumbents and may have lost up to six DFL seats. The possible GOP pick-ups are a combination of rural seats and a couple of metro seats. The votes continue to change as absentee ballots are counted, so these results are tentative. Here are the seats that the GOP is most likely to win:
- District 5A Rep. John Persell (DFL—Bemidji), the Chair of the Environment & Natural Resources Policy Committee is losing to former Rep. Matt Bliss (R) by 1,382 votes.
- District 19A Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL—St. Peter) is trailing Susan Akland (R) by 112 votes.
- District 27B Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL—Austin) is being challenged by Patricia Mueller (R) in southern Minnesota. She currently trails her challenger by 450 votes.
- District 54A Rep. Anne Claflin (DFL—South St. Paul) is losing to former Rep. Keith Franke (R) by 695 votes.
- District 55A Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL—Shakopee) is trailing Erik Mortensen (R) by 559 votes with Legal Marijuana Now candidate receiving 1,705 votes.
In addition to these seats, Rep. Amy Wazlawik (DFL—White Bear Lake) is holding onto her seat over her challenger Elliott Engen with a 97 vote lead. And just like the Senate, the House leadership has remained the same. Both caucuses met and re-elected Rep. Melissa Hortman as Speaker, Rep. Ryan Winkler at House Majority Leader and Rep. Kurt Daudt as the Republican Minority Leader. As for the committee structure and new committee chairs, that remains to be seen. Due to COVID and the retirement or defeat of four DFL committee chairs, Speaker Hortman has hinted at condensing committees.
We will update this information as votes are finalized later this week.
In the meantime, be ready for another special legislative session this week regarding the Governor’s COVID emergency powers.