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    Twenty candidates filed to run in the special election in southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District following the death of Republican Jim Hagedorn. That large field includes eight Democratic hopefuls. But in western Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, the picture is much different. For one, the GOP has an incumbent running in this year’s race: first-term Rep. Michelle Fischbach. But it’s on the DFL side where there’s the biggest contrast with the 1st District race. At one point, 7th District Democrats had three possible candidates, but two no longer live in the district after Minnesota courts redrew political boundaries. The third person is no longer seeking the Democratic endorsement but may keep running as an independent, which could prove a challenge: Air Force veteran Mark J. Lindquist says he is leaving the U.S. later this month to fight for Ukraine after the Russian invasion. “I might have called the chair of the 1st Congressional District (DFL) and told him ‘stop hogging all the candidates,’” joked Jennifer Cronin, who chairs Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District DFL. Article continues after advertisement Cronin said her organization...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Billing herself as a “trusted conservative” and “Trump Republican,” former Minnesota GOP party chair Jennifer Carnahan announced Monday she will run in the special election for the House seat vacated by her late husband’s death. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who represented Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District since 2019, died Feb. 17. READ MORE: David Hann Wins Minnesota GOP Chair After Carnahan's Tumultuous DepartureThe 1st District runs across the entirety of southern Minnesota, but also includes the Mankato area. It’s one of the few swing districts in country, meaning either party could win the seat. Here is the full list of candidates so far, as of noon on Monday: * Warren Lee Anderson, DFL * Matt Benda, GOP * Sarah Brakebill-Hacke, DFL * Jennifer Carnahan, GOP * Bob “Again” Carney Jr., GOP * Rick DeVoe, DFL * Jeff Ettinger, DFL * J.R. Ewing, GOP * Brad Finstad, GOP * George H. Kalberer, DFL * Kevin Kocina, GOP * Jeremy Munson, GOP * Nels Pierson, GOP * Ken Navitsky, GOP * Richard W. Painter, DFL * Richard B. Reisdorf, Legal...
    MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota redistricting is forcing some incumbent legislators to tough decisions. On Wednesday, Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen announced she won’t be running for re-election. The 41-year-old native of Puerto Rico became the first person of color to lead a caucus in Minnesota politics. New state legislative boundaries put López Franzen in the same district as longtime DFL Sen. Ron Latz. It came down to running against a fellow Democrat or moving to another district. López Franzen says she will fulfill her term representing Edina and parts of Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka.
    Minnesota environmentalists are applauding the Biden administration’s recent action cancelling certain federal leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper nickel mine in Northeastern Minnesota. Twin Metals opponents maintain that the mine will seriously degrade the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) wilderness.  But given the vocal support for mining in communities near the BWCA, political fallout from the lease cancellations could impact this year’s midterm elections. That was the case nearly 50 years ago, when an environmental victory for Boundary Waters advocates roiled Minnesota politics during another midterm election year.  In 1978, Congress adopted landmark legislation strengthening wilderness protection for the million-acre BWCA. In the U.S. House, the wilderness legislation was sponsored by Minnesota’s 5th District Rep. Don Fraser, an avid environmentalist. In 1976, Fraser had signed on as chief author of the BWCA bill drafted by several environmental groups, including the Friends of the Boundary Waters and Sierra Club. The legislation was opposed by the Boundary Waters Conservation Alliance, a coalition that brought together loggers, resort owners and sportsman who felt threatened by the push for BWCA wilderness...
    For years, DFL state Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth has defied political headwinds, winning a House seat in northwest Minnesota that often picked Republicans for president and governor — by a wide margin. But Marquart’s winning streak is coming to a close. On Wednesday, he announced he will not run for re-election in 2022, finishing his 11 terms in the House, which followed 11 years as Dilworth mayor and two on the city’s council. The 65-year-old high school social studies teacher, who also chairs the House’s powerful Taxes Committee, said his decision wasn’t because he felt like his district would be too difficult to win in 2022 — or because Democrats might lose their House majority in what could be a good election cycle for Republicans. Marquart said he and his family decided in the summer of 2020 he wouldn’t run again. He joins a dozen other state lawmakers retiring ahead of 2022. But as one of few DFLers representing a Greater Minnesota district where Republicans have political strength, Marquart’s departure from the Legislature is significant, and it could play...
    Three years ago, DFL-affiliated political groups were outspent by Republican-leaning groups in races for the Minnesota House yet came away with an election sweep that returned the chamber to their control. In 2020, the DFL’s apparatus vastly outspent their GOP counterparts and saw their House majority shrink, though they managed to retain control, while a DFL-pledge to do whatever it took to recapture the Senate fell short.  Article continues after advertisement So is money in politics all that the people who raise and spend the money think it is — or are the fundamentals of each race what really matter?  The 2020 reports released Tuesday by the state Campaign Finance Board don’t offer many clues. Looking at independent expenditures – money spent independent of the candidates’ campaigns that typically dwarfs candidate spending — groups seeking to help elect DFLers outspent their GOP rivals $18 million to $7.5 million.  Yet in the House, the DFL went from a 75-59 majority to 70-64 majority. And in the Senate, the GOP majority of 35-32 shrank by just one vote, 34-33. In Senate...
    More than a dusting. The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow reports: “Snow covered roads have led to multiple crashes on westbound Interstate 94 near Monticello, including one involving a semitrailer truck that burst into flames. … All westbound lanes are closed to all but emergency traffic, and motorists are advised to use a detour until early afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. … Images from MnDOT traffic management cameras show a large plume of smoke rising from a big rig that crashed near milepost 194, just before the Hwy. 25 exit in Monticello. At least a dozen other vehicles are involved in the crash, according to the video.” When COVID comes it comes fast. The Brainerd Dispatch’s Karen Tolkkinen reports: “COVID-19 has swept through two residential buildings at the Galeon Senior Living center in Osakis, Minn., claiming seven lives and infecting three-quarters of nursing home residents since getting its first case in October, its administrator confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 11. … Galeon had successfully warded off the virus until late October, Reinke said. But in a few short weeks, it has...
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Votes for pro-marijuana candidates could be the difference in a pair of Minnesota state Senate races, where those candidates pulled in thousands of votes despite minimal campaigning efforts. As absentee ballots continue getting tallied in critical swing races, Democrats say pro-marijuana candidates may have helped Republicans maintain control of the state Senate, which ironically hurts the recreational pot cause by preserving the state’s divided government. But Republicans contend that some candidates with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party appeared to benefit from the third-party candidates. Currently, only medical marijuana has been legalized in the state, the Star Tribune reported. In the Senate District 14 race, neither the Republican or Democratic candidates had seen Legal Marijuana Now candidate Jaden Partlo while campaigning, yet he received more than 3,000 votes Tuesday. As of Friday afternoon, DFL challenger Aric Putnam was leading Republican Sen. Jerry Relph by just a few hundred votes. Democrats have said not only do pro-marijuana candidates lean Republican, but that they were recruited to hurt their chances of winning races. Republican candidate Gene Dornink beat DFL Sen. Dan Sparks...
    MinnPost photo by Peter CallaghanThe state Senate now appears to be beyond the DFL’s reach.It was one of the top three 2020 election goals for the DFL, and millions of dollars were raised and spent to accomplish it: to take control of the Minnesota Senate from Republicans and create a Democratic governing trifecta: governor-House-Senate. The party’s other two goals — to continue its dominance in delivering the state for the Democratic presidential candidate and re-electing U.S. Sen. Tina Smith — were met. But the state Senate now appears to be beyond the DFL’s reach. For two more years, Minnesota likely will have the distinction of having the only divided Legislature in America. Despite being happy with the recruitment of challengers, despite out-fundraising the GOP and its interest groups two-to-one, and despite attracting attention from national activists, the DFL will remain in the Senate minority. The margin could be a single seat. The 2021 Legislature is now likely to convene with a 34-33 GOP majority or a 35-32 majority, the same advantage Republicans had when this election began. The House DFL...
    MinnPost photo by Peter CallaghanThe big prize, partisan control of the state Senate, is still unknown, though DFL hopes for a sweep of suburban and urban centers in Greater Minnesota were not being realized.There was no wave in Minnesota Tuesday, either blue or red, just a long slog toward final election results that will show only minor swings in party control, if that. The big prize, partisan control of the state Senate, is still unknown, though DFL hopes for a sweep of suburban and urban centers in Greater Minnesota were not being realized. There are close races in St. Cloud, Rochester and Austin that will determine whether the GOP retains a slim majority and a seat at post-Census redistricting negotiations. But in nearly every close race, GOP candidates ended the night leading. And in a few where they needed to protect incumbents, they were trailing. Final vote counting could change those results, but the numbers so far don’t show a huge shift toward the DFL. And in all cases, there are votes to be counted. What parts of districts those...
    Sen. Tina Smith has won re-election, defeating her Republican challenger, Jason Lewis. The Associated Press called the race around midnight on Election Day. As of publication time, Smith led Lewis by around 6 percentage points with votes still to be counted. “From the beginning, this campaign has been about what we can do to work together, find common ground, and get results for the good of Minnesota and our country,” Smith said in a statement. “Even in the midst of the great division and great challenges of this past year, I’ve always felt that Minnesotans at heart believe that we are better together. Tonight, you have shown that you want to work together and make progress.” By the time the AP called the race, Lewis had not issued a statement. Article continues after advertisement In Minnesota U.S. House races, the night brought one major upset: DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, the 15-term Democratic representative from Minnesota’s Seventh District, lost his race to former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach. As of publication time, Fischbach held a commanding lead of more than 14 percentage...
    Nearly $1.6 million. That’s the amount of money that’s been spent by outside groups on a single race in Minnesota Senate District 34, centered on Maple Grove, where Republican incumbent Warren Limmer is facing a challenge by DFLer Bonnie Westlin. Not including the candidate’s own spending, Westlin has benefited from just over $1 million in spending by independent expenditure groups, while Limmer has benefited from $565,000. The money has gone heavily toward direct mail, cable ads, digital ads and social media. Based on reports filed this week with the state Campaign Finance Board, a total of $24 million in independent expenditures has been spent on Minnesota legislative races through Oct. 19, the cutoff for this final pre-election report. Of that, state Senate races have accounted for two-thirds of total spending, with groups affiliated with the DFL accounting for two-thirds of that money. That reflects a recent trend of Democrats having a more-successful fundraising apparatus and the 2020 focus on Minnesota’s upper legislative chamber, where Republicans have a 35-32 majority. The charts for this story try to use spending to show...
    On paper, there aren’t many reasons that Minnesota’s political parties should be spending a lot of time and money on the state Senate race in District 34, a rematch from 2016 that saw the incumbent win by a 20 percent margin in a place where Donald Trump also won that year.  The district, which covers the northwest Twin Cities suburbs of Maple Grove, Osseo, Dayton and Rogers, has long been reliably Republican, with Sen. Warren Limmer winning there in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2016. In 2016, he beat DFL nominee Bonnie Westlin, who’s running again this year, by nearly 10,000 votes. But the 34th has become one of a handful of highly targeted districts that DFLers want to flip and Republicans need to defend. And along with a handful of other Senate races, the race there has become a proxy war over broader themes: control of the Senate, control of post-census redistricting, gun safety, criminal justice reform, policing and even recreational marijuana legalization, with much of the money being raised and spent in the race coming...
    With all 201 seats in the Minnesota House and Senate on the ballot this year — and with upcoming redistricting making control of the Legislature even more important — the campaign to control the state Legislature should be dominating the 2020 election. It’s not, however, and for one reason: Donald Trump. As much as the parties would like the election to be about local candidates and local issues, many are drafting in the wake of the presidential election. When asked at the kickoff of the House DFL campaign how “Trumpy” she thought the races would be, House Speaker Melissa Hortman replied: “We are hoping 2020 is just as Trumpy an election as 2018 was for our team.” The reference was to the election that allowed Hortman’s DFL to sweep the suburbs and reverse a large GOP majority, handing her control of the House by winning 75 of the chamber's 134 seats. This year, Hortman’s job is to defend what the DFL calls their majority makers: those first-year lawmakers who won in 2018, many in close elections. Most of the battlegrounds...
    After the dust cleared on the 2018 election, Minnesota’s delegation to Congress looked very different: Minnesotans elected first-timers to four of the state’s eight House seats, and confirmed appointed Sen. Tina Smith to continue in the place of Sen. Al Franken. Two years later, all representatives — and Sen. Smith — must run again to hang on to those seats. 2020 promises to be a busy political year, from the top of the ticket down. To help add a little order to the chaos, MinnPost is keeping track of all the candidates who declare for federal offices in Minnesota. We'll keep track of who drops out, who gets the party endorsement, and who wins the primary. (We’re also keeping track of candidates for the Minnesota Legislature.) If you know of a candidate who’s missing or see any other information that needs correcting, please contact us — [email protected] or [email protected] Senate Fresh off of defeating Republican state Sen. Karin Housley by more than 10 points in 2018, Sen. Tina Smith must again run for her seat in 2020. Smith was appointed...
    Rep. Ilhan Omar’s victory over primary challenger Antone Melton-Meaux might have felt familiar to anyone paying close attention to the history of elections in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. Melton-Meaux, who ran more as a personality than policy foil to Omar, banked a considerable amount of campaign cash and won high-profile DFLers support. He waged   a serious lawn sign and mailer campaign, and some speculated there could be an upset in the district. In the end, the race wasn’t that close. Omar won 58 percent of the district’s vote, compared to Melton-Meaux’s 39 percent. Looking closely at the returns, it’s clear how that happened: while Melton-Meaux won considerable support in parts of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs, it wasn’t enough to overcome Omar’s edge in the bulk of Minneapolis, the increasingly progressive voting bloc that dominates the district. Article continues after advertisement Her win, thanks to Minneapolis, echoes the primary win of her predecessor and now Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in 2006. Over time, activists have built a turnout machine that’s energized immigrant communities and the working class....
              The Minnesota Senate rejected Governor Walz’s appointee for the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) Commissioner Nancy Leppink in a close vote 34 to 32. Following the four hour session on Wednesday, the governor’s office issued a news release sharing Leppink’s lengthy career and its successes, as well as statements from various councils and organizations who support her. Walz tweeted that he was “[d]eeply disappointed Senate Republicans chose to play politics with Minnesotans’ health and safety.” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan tweeted the decision was “a slap in the face to those who keep us safe.” Shes respected by the workers she fights for and the businesses who want to do right by their employees. Her talent has never been more critical than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deeply disappointed Senate Republicans chose to play politics with Minnesotans health and safety. — Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) August 13, 2020 Nancy Leppink was fired by Senate Republicans because she worked tirelessly to protect nurses, teachers, grocery store workers, meat processing plant workers, janitors, and all...
    Minnesota voters set the stage for the 2020 general election Tuesday, even if they’re not totally sure who will be standing on it. While there were some races with clear victors, such as U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s renomination in the 5th Congressional District, there remained closer races that will need a full ballot count to call with confidence, something that might not be ready until Thursday, or even later. Generally, the endorsed DFL and the GOP candidates were doing well, with several topping incumbents like Minneapolis DFL lawmakers Sen. Jeff Hayden and Rep. Ramond Dehn. Both men trailed their endorsed challengers late Tuesday.  In the 7th Congressional District, covering western Minnesota, the GOP-endorsed candidate, Michelle Fischbach, was outpolling four other candidates in a race to face incumbent DFL Rep. Collin Peterson. Article continues after advertisement “A lot of our endorsed candidates, and that’s our party’s core foundation, are having decisive victories, so we’re very excited tonight,” said state GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan at a Fischbach election night party in Olivia. In addition to that contested primary, endorsed legislative candidates were...
    At least four incumbent Democratic-Farmer-Labor state legislators were losing their seats to more progressive challengers in Tuesday’s primary elections. Reps. John Lesch of St. Paul and Ray Dehn of Minneapolis and Sens. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis and Erik Simonson of Duluth were trailing by wide margins as balloting drew to a close. But all in all, it was a good night for incumbent lawmakers. No Republicans were losing to challengers from their own party, and all the other DFLers in contested races appeared headed to victories. Lesch, a nine-term incumbent representing most of the northern neighborhoods of the city, fell 20 percentage points behind first-time candidate Athena Hollins of St. Paul Hayden, the No. 2 DFL leader and one of just two Black men in the Senate, trailed challenger Omar Fateh by double digits with more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting in their south Minneapolis district. If Fateh holds on to win, he would be the only Somali American and the first Democratic Socialist elected to the state Senate. Four-term Rep. Dehn was losing his seat to party-endorsed...
    While a hotly contested primary is playing out across the Mississippi River in the Minneapolis-based 5th Congressional District, most of the legislative and congressional races in Tuesday’s intra-party elections in the east metro are relatively sleepy affairs. As television viewers across the Twin Cities are bombarded by campaign commercials for U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and her Democratic primary challenger, Antone Melton-Meause, most St. Paul-area voters aren’t hearing a peep from the candidates whose names will appear on their November ballots. That’s because most of the lawmaking seats on this side of the river are held by long-time incumbents who face only token opposition, if any, in the primary. And the fierce match between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is drowning out lower-level campaigns. Things will heat up across Minnesota by November, however, when voters will see and hear plenty from candidates in a competitive U.S. Senate race and as many as four of the state’s eight congressional contests, plus battles for 67 Minnesota Senate and 134 state House seats. The leading Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican candidates for the U.S....
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