The Minnesota August Primary contest delivered a few punches and garnered the largest voter turnout since 1970: 21 percent. Below are a few highlights.
Gubernatorial Race (Open Seat)
Republican candidate and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson handily defeated former two-term Governor Tim Pawlenty with 53 percent of the vote. Johnson has aligned himself with President Trump, and touted a message of less government bureaucracy. In conceding the race, Tim Pawlenty stated that he doesn’t really fit into the era of Trump all that well.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (1st District) won a three-way primary with 42 percent of the vote, defeating state Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-endorsed candidate from St. Paul) and Attorney General Lori Swanson. Walz ran on a “One Minnesota” platform seeking to bridge the urban-rural divide.
Both candidates have a Native American running mate on the ticket: Peggy Flanagan (Walz) and Donna Bergstrom (Johnson) – both members of the Ojibwe tribe.
Should Johnson win the November election and the State House and Senate retain a Republican majority, the Republicans would control State government. On the flip side, should Walz win, the DFL would retain a pivotal role in the upcoming legislative budget debate, and the 2020 census and resulting redistricting.
Attorney General (Open Seat)
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (5th District) soundly defeated his four DFL opponents garnering 50% of the vote. Ellison weathered the storm of an allegation of domestic abuse, which surfaced the day before the election. It is likely that this allegation will remain an issue in the General Election. Ellison has been an ardent Trump critic, and is sure to engage at the national level should he win.
Former Eagan State Representative Doug Wardlow defeated his two Republican opponents with 46% of the vote. Wardlow ran on a conservative value agenda.
Former Lt. Governor and DFL-endorsed incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (appointed by Gov. Dayton to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Al Franken) defeated Trump critic and University of Minnesota Law professor (Republican turned DFLer) Richard Painter with 76% of the vote. Smith has been a champion of early childhood education and rural broadband investment. She will face Republican State Rep. Karin Housley (St. Mary’s Point) in November.
1st Congressional District (Open Seat)
Former Director for Legislative and Public Affairs for the Financial Management Service agency in the U.S. Dept. of Treasury Jim Hagedorn (endorsed) defeated State Sen. Carla Nelson with 60% of the vote on the Republican-side. Hagedorn focused on agriculture, tax reform, and anti-abortion issues. He will face former soldier/Assistant Secretary of Defense Dan Feehan on the DFL side in November.
5th Congressional District (Open Seat)
State Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis) won a six-way race with 48% of the vote. It is a solidly DFL district. She was the first Somali-American woman elected to office in the nation. Omar received national publicity as a result of her 2016 win, and is expected to focus on economic justice, education, criminal justice reform, and a just immigration system.
8th Congressional District (Open Seat)
Former State Rep. Joe Radinovich defeated a current State Rep. and former news anchor with 44% of the vote. Radinovich ran on protecting collective bargaining rights, campaign finance reform, skyrocketing child care costs, and protecting Social Security and Medicare. He will face St. Louis County Commissioner and Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Pete Stauber in the November election. Historically DFL, the district is now considered a toss-up.
All State House seats will be on the ballot in November. Seven incumbents faced a primary challenge. Six incumbents prevailed. Two-term Republican Rep. Bob Loonan (Shakopee) lost his primary bid to local business owner and Republican-endorsed candidate Erik Mortensen. Mortensen garnered 58% of the vote and will face former Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke in November. His platform promotes smaller government, reducing taxes, ending abortion funding, and sponsoring Stand Your Ground legislation.