Polls closed Monday, February 12, at 8 p.m. for two special elections to state legislature seats in Minnesota. Both seats were vacated in December by sitting members amid sexual harassment allegations.
Senate District 54
Senate District 54 is in the southeast metro and includes Cottage Grove, Hastings and surrounding communities. Two former Minnesota House members faced off: Republican Denny McNamara served from 2003-2016 and is a small business owner. Democrat Karla Bigham served in the House from 2007-2010, and is a current Washington County Commissioner. Emily Melligen ran as a Libertarian candidate.
Karla Bigham won with 51 percent of the vote, yet the Republicans maintain a 34-33 majority in the Minnesota Senate. However, when Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill U.S. Senator Al Franken's seat until the November 2018 election, the President of the Senate, Republican Michelle Fischbach, became lieutenant governor. With such a close majority, we can expect that legal wrangling will continue to define whether Fischbach can serve as both lieutenant governor and in the Senate, putting that balance of power into question once again.
House District 23B
House District 23B is south of Mankato, encompassing rural communities in Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Watonwan and Waseca Counties. Democrat Melissa Wagner is a school social worker. Republican Jeremy Munson is the chair of the First Congressional District Republicans. Both were first-time candidates.
Jeremy Munson won the race with nearly 60 percent of the vote. When session begins and Munson is sworn in, the House Republicans will hold a 77-57 majority.