January 27, 2023
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2022 has been an important political year in Minnesota, shaping the fate of political parties, candidates, cases, and financial interests. Here is a description of these various fates.

Winners

At the top of the list of winners is Governor Tim Walz. After a difficult and tumultuous first term, he secured a comfortable electoral victory and Democratic control of the state legislature for the first time since the 2012 election. He now has a big say in distributing the huge government budget surplus to voters and friendly political interests. His box of goodies is now overflowing.

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Along with the governor, DFL chairman Ken Martin is on the list. Now in his sixth term and facing a possible 2022 red wave, he nonetheless led his party to victories in every race across the state, maintaining that streak during his presidency that began in 2011. The new DFL-controlled state legislature is another feather in Martin’s hat. .

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The two “marijuana parties” in Minnesota – the Legal Marijuana Now Party and the Grassroots Cannabis Legalization Party – are so successful that they may soon cease to exist. The DFL’s control of the state government means legalization is likely to happen. The Democrats will put public safety and health concerns aside in their ardent desire to add the 100% to their campaign coalition.

Public money—their flows—proved to be decisive in state elections. Most of this came to the DFL through direct contributions and independent spending. It helps to have Rockefeller as the ex-wife of the DFL governor. The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, with its ubiquitous abortion ads targeting hapless Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, has proved especially influential.

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Republican winners are few. Rep. Brad Finstad appears to have transformed the First Congressional District into a fairly safe GOP seat. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th, as head of the Congressional Republican National Committee, saw his predicted national red wave turn into a trickle. He won the position of the Republican Whip of the House of Representatives by a one-vote margin, and that decisive vote was cast for him by mistake. I think that counts as a win.

Survivors

David Hann remains chairman of the Republican Party, despite the complete defeat of his party in the elections. However, he was chairman only a few months before the election, and any repairs to his party would take years. He survives to complete this gigantic task.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-2th, surviving by just over five percent in its highly competitive race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Second District. However, it remains a volatile area that is likely to attract quality GOP contenders in the future. She is likely to face more stubborn campaigns.

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and State Auditor Julie Blaha have won statewide and, like Craig, are likely to attract quality contenders four years from now.

Republican Rep. Lisa Demuth (Cold Springs) and State Senator Mark Swanson (Becker) survived the election and will now be minority leaders in their respective houses. Could they be anything more than bystanders in the DFL-controlled legislature?

Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Melissa Hortman has returned from her near-death state. Presumably stuck in a tense re-election struggle, she came to victory with just over 62% of the vote and saw her majority in the State House held with 69 Democrats and 63 Republicans. She survives to run the State House for another day.

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Losers

It’s a long list with a lot of Republicans on it. However, one notable DFL loser is outgoing State House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who resigned his seat due to a failed bid to become Hennepin County’s Attorney.

The entire slate of Republican candidates for state office was defeated, missing out on the party’s best statewide opportunity in years. Urban uprisings, a pandemic, record inflation, public spending scandals opened up great electoral prospects for them. None of the candidates were able to make the sale. It is true that they were all significantly overspent, so the participating State, which could not match the resources of the DFL, could lose the most in these results.

Kurt Daudt saw his hopes for the GOP Speakership rule that the House of Representatives would disappear, and after the election he was no longer House Minority Leader. Senator Paul Gazelka relinquished his Senate Majority Leader seat to run for governor and lost his party’s support.

Stephen Shire

One of the main culprits behind the failure of the Republican Party in the 2022 election was the mayor of Lexington, Minnesota, Mike Murphy. At the party’s state convention, he slandered gubernatorial rival Kendall Qualls as a liar and endorsed Scott Jensen, sealing the party’s fate in the 2022 election. I wonder if he was secretly on the DFL payroll.

What is the guerrilla future of Minnesota after 2022? As the state Republican Party becomes less competitive in the elections, the DFL rule could become a sine qua non of Minnesota party politics. The state’s guerrilla balance may increasingly resemble that of states such as Washington and Oregon. These states usually vote blue in elections, and GOP victories are limited to the most rural areas of the states. The actions of the state Republican Party after Pawlenty became governor moved the North Star State strongly in this direction.

Stephen Shire is the Congdon Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

#Political #Winners #Survivors #Losers #Minnesota

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