August 15, 2018

Minnesota Primary Election Update

On August 14, 2018, approximately 876,000 Minnesotans went to the polls to cast their votes to select who should be on the ballot in November. This is the highest primary turnout since 1994. Attention now turns to an eventful fall with Minnesota taking center stage in the mid-terms as both U.S. Senate seats and all eight congressional seats – four of them rated as toss ups or competitive – will be decided. There are significant statewide implications, the governor’s office, all other constitutional officers and all 134 seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives on the ballot. There is also one Minnesota Senate seat open as former Senator and current Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach resigned her seat to serve as Lt. Governor. This seat will determine which party controls the Minnesota Senate.


Both Republicans and Democrats have been eyeing the Governor’s Office since Governor Mark Dayton announced he would not seek another term.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won the GOP endorsement in June. He faced former Governor Tim Pawlenty on the ballot. The endorsement apparently gave Johnson enough support to push him over the edge and to the surprise of many, he beat Pawlenty after receiving 52.6 percent of the vote to Pawlenty’s 48.9 percent.

Johnson will face Congressman Tim Walz on the ballot in November. Walz capitalized on being the only candidate from greater Minnesota where his strong showing and solid support in the Metro area resulted in a victory. Walz beat State Representative Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson receiving earning 41.7 percent of the vote to Murphy’s 32.1 percent and Swanson’s 24.4 percent.

Attorney General

Three months ago, few were thinking about the race for Attorney General. That all changed in June when Lori Swanson jumped into the Governor’s race causing a myriad of DFL hopefuls to challenge DFL-endorsed candidate Matt Pelikan for the open seat. Four candidates joined Pelikan on the ballot including Congressman Keith Ellison, State Representative Debra Hilstrom (DFL – Brooklyn Center), former Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, and former Ramsey County attorney Tom Foley. Ellison rose to the top of the crowded field ultimately receiving 49.84 percent of the vote. The rest of the votes were split evenly across the remaining four candidates. He will face Republican Doug Wardlow, who also won handily last night, in the general election.

U.S. Senate

Both United States Senators Amy Klobuchar (DFL) and Tina Smith (DFL) won their primary races. Klobuchar did not face any difficult challengers. Klobuchar will face State Representative Jim Newberger (R – Becker) in November. Smith soundly beat Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics counsel under President George W. Bush, Smith will face State Senator Karin Housley (R – St. Mary’s Point) who easily won her primary battle.

U.S. Congress

District 1

The First Congressional District stretches across Southern Minnesota from Wisconsin to South Dakota. Current Congressman Tim Walz has represented the district since 2007. The District voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in the last election, and Republicans are hopeful to flip this district in the November.

Jim Hagedorn (R – Blue Earth) beat State Senator Carla Nelson (R – Rochester) in the GOP primary for the First Congressional District after receiving 50.2 percent of the vote. This will be Hagedorn’s third time on the November ballot. He lost in 2014 and 2016 to Congressman Tim Walz. Hagedorn will face Dan Feehan, a Democrat from North Mankato, in November.

District 5

When Congressman Keith Ellison decided to run for Attorney General, several DFLers jumped into the race to represent the Fifth Congressional District which covers the eastern half of Hennepin County along with parts of Anoka and Ramsey counties. The district is a DFL stronghold and has been held by the Democrats since 1962.

State Representative Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis) won the primary yesterday and will likely be the next Congresswoman elected to represent the Fifth Congressional District in November. Omar beat former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and State Senator Patricia Torres Ray. Omar won 48.2 percent of the vote and Kelliher received 30.4 percent. Only three individuals have held this seat in the last 56 years which suggests Omar could keep this seat for a long time.

District 8

In February, Congressman Rick Nolan surprised many when he announced he would be retiring from office. After some shuffling, five DFL candidates emerged to try to succeed Nolan including: Former State Representative Joe Radinovich, State Representative Jason Metsa, TV Anchor Michelle Lee, Mayor of North Branch Kirsten Kennedy, and activist Soren Sorensen. St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber is the GOP-endorsed candidate for the seat. Stauber easily won his primary last night.

Former State Representative Joe Radinovich (DFL – Crosby) fought off the other four candidates vying for the seat winning 44.2 percent of the vote. Lee came in second receiving 27.5 percent of the vote.

In 2016, this district saw the most expensive congressional campaign in the entire country, and this year is expected to be no different as the GOP hopes they can flip the seat and the DFL hopes they can keep the seat blue.

Notable Primary Races for State House of Representatives

  • 6B: Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora) will face Skeeter Tomczak (R – Eveleth). This seat is currently held by Rep. Jason Metsa (DFL – Virginia) who ran for Congress. Lislegard beat the DFL endorsed candidate, Shaun Hainey.
  • 31B: Representative Cal Bahr (R – East Bethel) won against his primary challenger, former Representative Tom Hackbarth (R – Cedar). He will face Sue Larson (DFL – Isanti) in the fall.
  • 34A: Kristin Robbins (R – Maple Grove) beat Brad Ganzer (R – Dayton). Ganzer was the endorsed Republican candidate. This seat opened when current Majority Leader Joyce Peppin decided not to run for re-election in May. Robbins will face Dan Solon (DFL – Rogers) in the fall.
  • 40B: Samantha Vang (DFL – Brooklyn Center) won a three-way race to face-off against Robert Marvin (R) in the fall. This seat opened after Representative Debra Hilstrom decided to run for Attorney General. Vang will face Robert Marvin in the general election.
  • 47B: Greg Boe (R – Chaska) won against Vincent Beaudette, the GOP-endorsed candidate. This seat opened after current Representative Joe Hoppe decided to not run for re-election. Boe will face Donzel Leggett (DFL – Chaska) in November.
  • 55A: Representative Bob Loonan (R – Shakopee) lost his primary against the GOP-endorsed candidate Erik Mortensen (R – Shakopee). He will face former Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke in the general election.

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