State Legislature

The pendulum has swung again.

Despite solid GOP majorities currently held in both bodies of the Legislature, Senate and House DFL caucuses fought their way back to decisive control of both houses in the 2013 Legislature. For the 2013-14 biennium, Democrats will have a 39-28 majority in the Senate and a 73-61 majority in the House. More than 30 percent of House members are freshmen, including eight former legislators (serving non-consecutive terms). In the Senate, 34 percent of the members are freshmen, including seven current state Representatives and four former legislators (serving non-consecutive terms).

Two elections have triggered automatic recount. State law requires an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent. There will be an automatic recount in House District 8B, where incumbent Republican Mary Franson defeated Democrat Bob Cunniff by 1 vote and in Senate District 8, where Democrat Kevin Dahle holds a 0.2 percent margin over Republican Michael Dudley. Dudley is considering waiving a recount by filing a written notice of waiver with the canvassing board.

Redistricting resulted in pitting incumbents against each other in four races. DFL incumbents defeated GOP incumbents in each race. DFL Sen. Lyle Koenen defeated GOP Sen. Joe Gimse; DFL Sen. Tom Saxhaug defeated GOP Sen. John Carlson; DFL Rep. John Persell defeated GOP Rep. Larry Howes; and DFL Rep. Tom Anzelc defeated GOP Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick.

As a result of redistricting and retirements, 53 open seats were created where no incumbent resides in the district. In the House, the DFL won 20 of these seats and the GOP won 15. In the Senate, nine of these seats went to the DFL and nine went to the GOP.

All of the DFL incumbents that ran for re-election won their races. GOP members did not have such luck, as a number of GOP incumbents lost their bids, including Senators John Howe, Benjamin Kruse, Pam Wolf, Ted Daley and Ted Lillie and Representatives Dave Hancock, King Banaian, Bruce Vogel, Rich Murray, Kirk Stensrud, Diane Anderson and Doug Wardlow.

In the coming weeks, the Senate and the House will meet to elect new leadership and set up committee structure. The House and Senate DFL will caucus for their leadership elections on November 8. The House GOP will caucus for leadership elections on November 10. Current leaders are:

  • House Minority Leader:        Representative Paul Thissen
  • House Speaker:                   Representative Kurt Zellers
  • Senate Minority Leader:       Senator Tom Bakk
  • Senate Majority Leader:       Senator David Senjem

Ballot Initiatives

Until this election, Minnesota has seen nine ballot initiatives since 1990 and, of those nine initiatives, eight have passed. Under state law, constitutional amendments must receive the majority of votes cast in that election to pass. Ballots left blank count as "No" votes. Minnesota's two ballot initiatives failed, despite a record $18 million that was poured into swaying the votes of Minnesotans.

Constitutional Amendment 1 defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman. The amendment was defeated after only receiving 47.69 percent of the required votes. Constitutional Amendment 2 required Minnesotans to display photographic identification before voting and was defeated after receiving only 46.40 percent approval.

Minnesota's Federal Elections

The 2012 elections came and went with Minnesota's 10 Electoral College votes delivered to President Barack Obama. President Obama delivered his victory speech early in the morning after ending the night with a comfortable seven-point lead in Minnesota and a total of 303 Electoral College votes (Florida is still undecided).

Senator Amy Klobuchar enjoyed the first official statewide victory of the night, handily winning re-election against former state representative Kurt Bills. In the only congressional flip of the night, former CD6 Congressman Rick Nolan defeated first term CD8 Congressman Chip Cravaack, returning the Iron Range District to DFL control. Congressman Elect Nolan's win moves Minnesota from a 4 DFL-4 GOP congressional split to a 5 DFL congressional majority.

DFL Congresspersons Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum also won re-election to the United States Congress, along with GOP Congresspersons John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann. Congresswoman Bachmann narrowly won her race against Jim Graves.