Politics & Policy

The Corner

Minnesota Is Next Year’s Biggest Election Battleground

Assuming Al Franken resigns from the Senate, Minnesota is going to have two Senate elections next year. The state will also be electing a new governor, since incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton is not running again. Minnesota hasn’t had simultaneous elections for these three offices since 1978.

The state has several competitive House races, too. Roll Call’s list of the ten most vulnerable incumbents in the House includes two Minnesotans; the Cook Political Report includes three Minnesota seats among the 21 it considers “toss-ups.” Those three include two seats held by Democrats and one held by a Republican. Another seat not on either list, the one held by Republican Erik Paulsen, could generate a real race too: It went for the Democrats in the presidential race in each of the last three elections. Minnesota will also be holding elections for the state house, where Republicans currently hold a majority.

One of the statewide races seems to be nearly a lock for the Democrats: Senator Amy Klobuchar should have an easy re-election. The other Senate race should be more competitive, especially if former Governor Tim Pawlenty is the Republican candidate to replace Franken.

While Minnesota has not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972, it has been shifting to the right. Judged by its presidential-vote margin, it was the second-lightest-blue state in the country in 2016. If next year’s elections turn out to be a national Democratic wave, however, that trend won’t save the state’s Republicans.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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