November 10, 2016

Minnesota Legislative Update: 2016 Election Results

In January 2017, Donald Trump will begin his term as the nation’s 45th President. Both bodies of Congress will also be under Republican control. Trump’s win brought Republican victories to Minnesota as well. The Minnesota House will remain in Republican control, 76 R – 57 D. But the Minnesota Senate control will shift from the Democrat Farmer Labor party (DFL) to the GOP by a slim margin of 34 R – 33 D.

Minnesota House

After Tuesday’s election, House Republicans have a 19-seat majority. This will likely grow by one as Republicans are expected to increase their majority to 77-57 following a February 14, 2017, special election in District 32B after the removal of a candidate from the ballot for failing to establish residency.

House incumbents losing their re-election bids:

  • Persell (DFL-Bemidji)
  • Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township)
  • Yarusso (DFL-Shoreview)
  • Erhardt (DFL-Edina)
  • C. Anderson (R-Bloomington)

Minnesota Senate

In January, Senate Republicans will — pending an automatic recount in two districts — hold a 34-33 majority. This changed control was seen as unlikely given the DFL’s 38-28 (one seat open) advantage coming into the election. Republicans last controlled the Senate for two years following the 2010 election. Prior to 2010, the Senate had not been controlled by the Republicans since 1971. Of significance, both David Hann, current Republican House Minority Leader, and Rod Skoe, chair of the Tax Committee, lost their re-election bids.

Incumbent Senators losing their re-election bids:

  • Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook)
  • Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids)
  • Koenen (DFL-Clara City)
  • Dahle (DFL-Northfield)
  • Schmit (DFL-Red Wing)
  • Jensen (DFL-Owatonna)
  • Hann (R-Eden Prairie)

Recounts occur automatically when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent. The two recounts are:

District 14 Recount

Jerry Relph (R) 17,517 (47.40%)
Dan Wolgamott (DFL) 17,375 (47.02%)
Difference of 142 votes

District 44 Recount

Paul Anderson (R) 2,5297 (50.13%)
Deb Calvert (DFL) 2,5096 (49.73%)
Difference of 201 votes

House and Senate Leadership

The House DFL will hold its leadership elections on Thursday, November 10, and the House Republicans on Friday, November 11. The current leaders from both parties are:

  • House Speaker – Kurt Daudt (R-Crown)
  • House Majority Leader – Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers)
  • House Minority Leader – Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis)

Both the Senate GOP and Senate DFLers will meet on Thursday, November 10, to elect caucus leaders and start the reorganization process. Current leadership posts:

  • Senate Majority Leader — Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook)
  • Senate Minority Leader — David Hann (R-Eden Prairie)

Historically, committee chairs have been announced by the end of November and committee assignments announced by the end of December.

Congressional Races

There were three hotly contested congressional races in Minnesota — the Second, Third and Eighth districts. There were no statewide Senate or Gubernatorial elections this year.

Minnesota’s rural Eighth Congressional district race was a 2014 rematch between Congressman Rick Nolan and Stewart Mills. It was the most expensive congressional race in the country with more than $20.5 million1 in spending. Nolan received 50.17% of the votes, and Mills received 49.61% — a vote total difference of 2,025. The margin of victory is outside of the 0.25% for an automatic recount.

With the announcement of Republican Congressman John Kline not running for re-election in the suburban Second Congressional District, DFLers hoped to flip this open seat. Following on the Republican wave, Republican Jason Lewis won, receiving 47% of the vote to 45% for DFLer Angie Craig.

In the suburban Third Congressional District, Congressman Eric Paulsen retained his congressional seat over rival State Senator Terri Bonoff. He received 56% of the vote.

In the other five congressional districts, GOP Representative Tom Emmer and DFL Representatives Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson won re-election to the U.S. House.

With these results, Minnesota continues to have a 5 DFL – 3 GOP congressional split.

Constitutional Amendment on Legislative Pay

Minnesotans have voted on 11 proposed constitutional amendments since 1990. Eight of those 11 have passed. Under state law, constitutional amendments must receive the majority of votes cast in that election to pass. Ballots left blank count as “No” votes.

This year, lawmakers’ power to set their own pay was transferred to an independent, citizens-only council. Unlike previous ballot initiatives, there were no campaign efforts on either side of the measure and very little media attention given to the measure. Minnesotans overwhelmingly supported this amendment, which received 76% of total votes cast.

Next Up

  • Late November/Early December 2016 — November Budget Forecast
  • January 3, 2017 — Legislature convenes
  • January 24, 2017 — Governor required to submit budget to Legislature

1 Actual amount $20,651,110 – spending amounts as of FEC report on 11/6/16.

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