What follows is an overview of the results of the August 11, 2020, primary in Minnesota.  Not every race is included; instead those races that involved incumbents, or were otherwise notable are discussed.

US Senate

Incumbent Democrat Tina Smith handily prevailed in her primary with 87% of the vote. She will face the former one-term southeast Minnesota Republican congressman Jason Lewis, who also easily won his primary with 78% of the vote.


Fifth District – Incumbent Ilhan Omar (DFL) – Minneapolis / West Metro Suburbs

This race pitted first-term Congresswoman Ilhan Omar against a number of challengers, the most well-funded of them being Antone Melton-Meaux. This congressional district is considered the safest Democratic seat in the entire Congress. Thus, the winner of this primary will be the congressperson for the district.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar prevailed with current vote totals at:

57.44%           Ilhan Omar
39.18%           Antone Melton-Meaux

Seventh District – Incumbent Collin Peterson (DFL) – Northwestern / Western MN

Sixteen-term incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson is one of the last remaining rural Democrats in Congress. He currently chairs the House Agriculture Committee, and is one of the top targets for congressional Republicans as his district voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, with 61% of the vote.

In light of the perceived weakness of Congressman Peterson, a number of Republicans ran in the primary. The endorsed candidate is former state senator, and Tim Pawlenty’s most recent running mate for Lieutenant Governor, Michelle Fischbach. President Trump has also endorsed her candidacy. The current voting percentages are:

59.3%             Michelle Fischbach
22.16%           David Hughes
14.9%             Noel Collis

Other Congressional Candidates

Every other congressional race was largely uncontested in the primary.

State Senate

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, several African American women decided to run, in some cases against incumbent Democratic senators; notably Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent and senior St. Paul Senator Sandy Pappas.  In both cases, the incumbents handily won.

Duluth Senate Seat – Incumbent DFL Senator Erik Simonson v. Jen McEwen

Challenger Jen McEwen launched her campaign in April and won the DFL endorsement in May on the first ballot. She is running as a strong progressive and environmentalist. Current Senator Erik Simonson has a moderate voting record on environmental issues and has supported copper nickel mining. He had strong support from trade unions and police and fire organizations.

Simonson was endorsed by Governor Tim Walz, former Congressman Rick Nolan, former Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon (who previously held the Senate seat from 2002 through the end of 2010), AFSCME Council 5, the Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council, and the State Building Trades Council. McEwen has been endorsed by the DFL Party, Women Winning, Education Minnesota, Take Action Minnesota, and the Duluth News Tribune.

This is a strong Democratic district that gave Hillary Clinton 60% of the vote in 2016.

Current voting totals indicate that Jen McEwen convincingly defeated Senator Simonson. The totals currently are:

73%    Jen McEwen
26%    Erik Simonson

South Minneapolis Seat – Incumbent DFL Senator Jeff Hayden v. Omar Fateh

This district encompasses the site where George Floyd was killed and protests and rioting occurred. It has a very high percentage of renters and a large Somali population. In May, in a virtual endorsement convention, Omar Fateh won the DFL endorsement over Hayden with 72% of delegate support on the first ballot. Following the convention, Hayden questioned how delegates were seated and said his campaign conducted a sample of delegates who voted online and could not determine whether they lived in the district or not.

Fateh has the DFL Party endorsement. Senator Hayden had been endorsed by Minnesota AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 5, Teamsters Local 32, SEIU, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, and Attorney General Keith Ellison. This district is solidly Democrat and gave Hillary Clinton 84% of the vote to President Trump’s 8.4% of the vote in 2016.

Currently, the voting percentages are:

54.53%           Omar Fateh
45.47%           Jeff Hayden

Chaska/Chanhassen Seat Republican Primary Julia Coleman v. Thomas Funk

When Senator Scott Jensen announced he would not seek re-election, Chanhassen City Councilmember Julia Coleman, the daughter-in-law of former US Senator Norm Coleman, jumped into the race, followed by Victoria Mayor Thomas Funk.

Mayor Funk made opposing school equity programs a major issue in his campaign, claiming that the Eastern Carver School district was attempting to indoctrinate students to a liberal radical agenda that degrades all white students and forces them to apologize for their skin color and their race. Councilmember Coleman did not make this a part of her platform and argued that her profile as a millennial mom has broader appeal.

Currently, the voting percentages are:

62.95%           Julia Coleman
37.05%           Thomas Funk

State House

North Minneapolis Seat – Incumbent DFL Representative Ray Dehn v. Esther Agbaje

Last October, Esther Agbaje announced that she would challenge Representative Dehn for the DFL endorsement for House District 59B and prevailed on the third ballot during the May endorsement convention. Representative Dehn has represented the district for six years, and counted on the long-time friendship and support of Attorney General Keith Ellison to help him in this district that Ellison once represented. Agbaje is an attorney with the well regarded Ciresi Law Firm, a litigation boutique firm that is generally on the plaintiff’s side.

Following the convention, Dehn questioned the outcome and raised concerns about how some alternate delegates were seated and announced that he would run in the primary.  This district is solidly Democratic and voted for Hillary Clinton with 79% of the vote to Donald Trump’s 13%.

Currently, the voting percentages are:

41.86%           Ray Dehn
42.38%           Esther Agbaje

North End St. Paul Seat – Incumbent DFL Representative John Lesch v. Athena Hollins

Sixteen-term incumbent Representative John Lesch has faced an increasing chorus that has questioned his incumbency. In May, despite concerns that many had raised, he nevertheless won the DFL online endorsement on the first ballot.

Athena Hollins is an attorney who has been involved in neighborhood organizations.

The current voting percentages are:

39.7%             John Lesch
60.3%             Athena Hollins

Eagan Seat / Laurie Halverson seat — Mike Maguire / Liz Reyer

With the announcement in April that four-term Representative Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), the chair of the House Commerce Committee, would not seek re-election, four candidates sought the DFL endorsement to succeed her. Liz Reyer prevailed in that contest while Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire announced he would campaign for the DFL primary. This district is tilts Democratic and was carried by Hillary Clinton with 53% of the vote to Donald Trump’s 37%.

Reyer is running on endorsements from Halverson, the DFL Party, AFL-CIO, and Women Winning, while Maguire is running on his name recognition and long-time record of service in Eagan.

The current voting percentages are:

63.01%           Liz Reyer
36.99%           Mike Maguire

Shakopee Seat – Republican Primary Bob Loonan v. Erik Mortensen

This race is a rematch of 2018, where both candidates faced off in the Republican primary. At the time, Loonan was the incumbent and Mortensen was the Republican-endorsed candidate. Mortensen prevailed in 2018 with 58% to Loonan’s 42%.

For this primary, neither candidate has the Republican endorsement. During the March endorsement convention, Loonan and Mortensen were tied on the sixth ballot and delegates subsequently chose not to endorse in the race.

Mortensen has portrayed Loonan as insufficiently conservative while Loonan has criticized Mortensen for losing to current-Representative Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) in 2018. Loonan cites the fact that Mortensen is the first Republican in 20 years to lose the district to a Democrat.

The current voting percentages are:

44.92%           Bob Loonan
55.08%           Erik Mortenson

It appears that the 2020 general election will be a redux of the 2016 race, with Mortenson running against Representative Tabke. Donald Trump won the district with 47% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 43% in 2016.

August 14, 2020