It was a Republican Minnesota election: Strong Trump performance in outstate areas helps GOP

ST. PAUL -- Republicans apparently won control of the Minnesota Senate Tuesday, Nov. 8, and came close in many races they were not expected to make competitive.


ST. PAUL -- Republicans apparently won control of the Minnesota Senate Tuesday, Nov. 8, and came close in many races they were not expected to make competitive.

As Donald Trump stayed close to Democrat Hillary Clinton in a Minnesota presidential race not decided Wednesday morning, three fellow Republicans fell just short of unseating a trio of greater Minnesota Democratic congressmen: Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz. Nolan's race was expected to be tight, but few thought the other two faced competition as tough as it turned out.

The GOP won big in greater Minnesota much as Trump dominated rural American votes. Trump received credit for helping Republicans in that area.

The Republican wave included ousting some long-time Democratic legislators.

Republicans appeared to have won a net of six state Senate seats, just enough to take control away from Democrats, who have been in charge of the Senate all but two years over more than four decades. It looked like the GOP would add four seats to its House majority.


Among Democrats turned out of legislative office is Sen. Rod Skoe of Clearbrook, chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee. Skoe lost 57 percent to 43 percent to Republican Paul Utke, according to unofficial results.

He was not the only Democrat that Republicans kicked out:

-- Sen. Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids, also a committee chairman, dropped a race to Justice Eichorn by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.

-- Andrew Lang dominated Sen. Lyle Koenen of Cara City 57 percent to 43 percent.

-- Mike Googin upset Sen. Matt Schmit of Red Wing 54 percent to 46 percent.

-- John Jasinski beat Sen. Vicki Jensen of Owatonna 58 percent to 41 percent.

-- Matt Bliss ousted Rep. John Persell of Bemidji 54 percent to 46 percent.

-- Sandy Layman booted Rep. Tom Anzelc of near Bovey 54 percent to 42 percent.


-- Randy Jessup upset Rep. Barb Yarusso of Shoreview 50.2 percent to 49.6 percent.

One Republican Senate seat that will go to Democrats is in the southeastern Twin Cities where retired teacher Steve Cwodzinski beat Senate Minority Leader David Hann 51 percent to 49 percent.

If returns hold, Republicans will have a 34-33 Senate margin.

In the House, it appears Republicans will hold a 76-57 advantage.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that the election gave Republicans a larger House majority during a presidential election for the first time in years. Democrats generally turn out in greater numbers in presidential years, usually allowing them to do well up and down the ballot.

The speaker said Trump's dominance in rural Minnesota helped Republican Legislature candidates win there.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, said he was disappointed with the results.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us to heal our divisions and address the frustration felt by so many of our fellow citizens," Thissen said. "Too many Minnesotans feel like they don’t have a voice in their government and the well-connected few are getting ahead at their expense. My colleagues and I in the House DFL caucus understand that frustration."


Three Democratic incumbent congressmen won close races.

Nolan was pushed for the second straight election by Republican Stewart Mills. Unofficial returns showed Nolan getting 50.2 percent and Mills 49.6 percent.

The 8th Congressional District contest in the northeastern quarter of the state attracted more than $20 million, one of the most expensive races in the country.

Long-time U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson was not expected to face much trouble from little-known and little-funded Republican Dave Hughes. But the race ended with Peterson winning by just 52 percent to 47 percent in the western part of Minnesota.

Across the southern part of the state, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz held off an unexpectedly strong challenge by Republican Jim Hagedorn. It was 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent in the two candidates' rematch of the 2014 election.

Former radio talk show host Jason Lewis, a Republican, appeared to be poised to take over retiring GOP U.S. Rep. John Kline's seat in the south Twin Cities and to the south. He beat Democrat Angie Craig 47 percent to 45 percent.

In other Minnesota U.S. House races, incumbents won: Erik Paulsen in the western Twin Cities, Betty McCollum in the eastern Twin Cities, Keith Ellison in Minneapolis and Tom Emmer in the northern Twin Cities to the St. Cloud area.

In the presidential race, rural Minnesota kept Trump competitive.

Polls before the election showed Clinton holding a single-digit, but comfortable lead. However, she appeared to have won just by 46 percent to 45 percent in a race not called by national media Wednesday morning.

Also in Minnesota Supreme Court justice Natalie Hudson easily won a six-year term and Minnesotans gave a 16-member commission power to decide state legislative pay in a constitutional amendment.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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