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Minnesota Remains the Nation's Only Divided State Legislature

By Mary Lahammer

Story published: November 10, 2020

Democrats in Minnesota won both statewide races for president and US Senate, which gave DFLers hope. Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) said the state proved that, even in a pandemic, "we can respect democracy and get our votes in."

Republicans did makes gains in the state and federal House of Representatives, especially with former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach’s victory over longtime Congressman and Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson. “I think Greater Minnesota is definitely a stronghold for Republicans," says Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan. "We’ve seen that part of the state shift and trend over multiple election cycles."

Suburban Democratic members of Congress Dean Phillips and Angie Craig won re-election in seats they took from Republicans just two years ago. Rural Republican Jim Hagedorn again survived a close contest in a district he took from Democratic hands two years ago. Exurban and rural Minnesotans appeared to push back at Democrats, perhaps because of unpopular COVID-19 restrictions.

The amount of early voting was unprecedented, and in-person voter turnout was incredibly strong statewide. The last two elections, Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout, and it appears we did so again, setting a new modern-day record with 79% of eligible voters casting ballots, but not touching the all-time record of 83% from 1956.

“We have a lot to be proud of: high turnout, low conflict. That’s what Minnesota is known for," says Secretary of State Steve Simon. Some legislative seats could still need more counting or recounts, but it appears that political control will stay the same at the Capitol, with Republicans running the Senate and Democrats the House - although potentially with tighter margins. As a result, Minnesota will remain the only divided legislature in the nation.

Stay tuned to Almanac for ongoing political coverage on Fridays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 9:30 am on TPT2.

Days before the 2020 election, more than a million votes had already been cast in Minnesota, and in-person early voting saw brisk turnout. The suburbs were a serious battleground with visits from candidates and targeted coordination to win over suburban women, in particular. Mary Lahammer took a look at the role Twin Cities suburbs played this election season.

Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District was home to a tight race leading up to the November 2020 election. One Greater Minnesota Reporter Kaomi Goetz took a look at the issues at stake as longtime incumbent Collin Peterson ran against former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach.

President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus the day after visiting Minnesota, where he met with Republican legislative leaders and three Minnesota members of Congress, who flew with him on Air Force One before Trump appeared in front of thousands. Prior to his diagnosis, Mary Lahammer spoke with local experts about the political change in the Northland.

Mary Lahammer Read More
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