We have spoken with operatives on both sides of the aisle in the battle for control of the MN House this legislative session, and strangely they are both in agreement. They see the outcome as too close to call and the number of variables too vast. Those variables are turnout, Trump effect, candidate work ethic i.e. numbers of doors knocked, number of contacts made and likeability of the candidate. We think there is
On the Republican side, the concessions are such that the scenario of a 67-67 body are actually on the table, but because of the non-contest for 17B, under this scenario the chamber could be in DFL hands until the Special election to fill the seat. The expected losses of seat are in the open seat 37B (Sanders), where their candidate Nolan West (R) is too much of a fascist to hold the seat and Susan Witt (DFL) is expected to prevail.
They concede the Bloomington seat they captured during the last Special Election should go back to the DFL column and Rep. Chad Anderson (R-50B, Bloomington) will be relegated to the status of a one-term legislator and his previous opponent Andrew Carlson (DFL) should be sworn in come January.
They also believe, Rep. Ron Erhardt (DFL-49A, Edina) will fall due to the attack mounted against him over insensitivity to a female constituent. We disagree and think Erhardt ties to the district first as a Republican, then Independent and now DFLer are emblematical of the evolution of Edina over the last two decades.
Republicans also believe they pick off Rep. John Persell (R-05A, Bemidji) and they are happy to say so because of their candidate’s name Matt Bliss (R).
The four other seats, which they see as a toss-up are the open seats in Red Wing and Apple Valley, we like to call them the in flagrante delicto or the tryst seats, 21A (Kelly) and 57A (Mack), 14B and 17B. In 21A, two women are facing off Barb Haley (R) and Lisa Bayley (DFL). The race will likely come down to turnout, name recognition, and likeability.
In 57A, two women are competing there as well and in this instance the ethnicity of the candidates may be an unspoken disadvantage. In identity politics, people like to be able to identify with the candidate and select one who they can best identify with. Ali Jimenez-Hopper’s (R) name is clearly identifiable, while Erin Maye Quade (DFL) it is hard to know she is gay from her name, but it is possible to discern it from her literature. The question is with another lesbian on the ballot in 2nd Congressional District candidate Angie Craig (D), which identity question will weigh less to the residents of Apple Valley?
14B is a sequel election between Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-14B, St Cloud) and former Rep. Zach Dorholt (DFL-St Cloud). Last time the race came down to 69 votes. This race in an off year accounted for nearly a million dollars in outside independent expenditures. This go round is not much different the numbers continue to rise and they may break they million dollar figure this time. The college vote is key to a victory for Dorholt and the Trump effect may suppress some of Knoblach core constituency.
Again, the primary factors are turnout, Trump, and likeability. In this case Knoblach is more okey dokey and sounds a lot like Jimmy Stewart and Dornholt a little nerdier, but it likely comes down to who you would rather have a beer with, and Dorholt is a part owner of the Old Capitol Tavern in Sauk Rapids.
17B also is a sequel election and it pits Rep. Dave Baker (R-17B, Willmar) against former Rep. Mary Swatasky (R-Willmar) in 2014 Baker bested Swatasky 214 votes in a low turnout election year. This time Swatasky has an advantage with a woman at the top of the ticket, which makes gender a significant factor. As is always the case, turnout is the most noteworthy issue, along with the Hillary effect and correspondingly the Trump effect, as well as likeability. Both candidates are likeable in person and the question is which one provides the greatest amount of confidence.
Our conversation on the other side of the aisle offers up the following. There doesn’t appear to be any level of confidence, but then when the DFL lost eleven seats in an off-year election that shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’re not running like your behind, you’re not running at all. They were not sure of the outcome and would not predict their own victory. Playing from behind is not an enviable position to be in. They are seeking to recoup the rural seats lost in 2014, 02A, 10A, 10B, 11B, 12A, 14B, 17A, 17B, 24B, 27A and lone metro seat 56B.
Now we belief the DFL should expand the map and push for a greater influence in the suburbs and think a slight adjustment to their strategy Is warranted, and is now in effect with their last campaign finance report. They have included an additional suburban seat 44A, and another rural seat 27B in their targeting scope.
Republicans are surprised the DFL is continuing to spend money is the two seats they clearly concede 37B and 50B, but acknowledge elections are not a forgone conclusion until every last ballot is counted. That said the combined effort of candidate expenditures, independent expenditures by outside groups are in full effect and the efforts being made in specific districts are easier to see.
The expenditures in 02A are all against the Mathew Grossell (DFL) and none in favor, and for Jerry Loud (R) so this appears to be a DFL write-off.
In 10A, the bevy of outside money is for challenger Quinn Nystrom (DFL) and no aid from the Republican side for Rep. Josh Heintzmann (R-10A, Nisswa). The DFL is showing confidence here.
10B, likewise there is more money flowing into this district from pro-DFL groups than there is from pro-Republican groups and since independent Republicans talk amongst themselves and share information we can be lead to believe this might also be re-obtainable for the DFL.
11B, again the money coming in from the outside is for Thomas Jones (DFL) in addition to having a musical name he is reaping the benefit of the independent expenditures. Speaks for itself.
12A in this sequel election both sides are throwing the kitchen sink into the race. Rep.
Jay Backer (R-12A, Browns Valley) again faces former Rep. Jay McNamar (DFL-Elbow Lake). The flow of money, the intensive effort will also come down to turnout, Trump effect, and likeability.
14B The same sentiments were expressed on this race as discussed above.
17A the sequel between Rep. Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg) and former Rep. Andrew Falk (Murdock) is also receive a great amount of attention. The citizens of this district will breathe a sigh of relief once the election ends. DFL legislators will as well since if asked in private they will admit the bevy of calls and incessant whinnying by Falk over the last two years will be a good reprieve.
17B is discussed similarly above.
24B this is another sequel election between Rep. Brian Daniels (R-24B, Fairbault) and former Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Fairbault) Normally we would think to be the weakest candidate on the roster. His political pedigree consists of being the sister of Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-29B, Maple Lake), and in 2014 since she had no opponent of her own could spend a significant amount of time helping out her brother. This time the DFL was smart enough to put up a candidate against her and keep her home.
The money is coming in hand over fist so the resources are not a question. If Fritz has the energy to knock every door, and shake every hand she should fare well in this current political climate. Again, turnout, the Trump effect and the likeability of the candidate are the essential elements.
27A The DFL an outside group have lessened their fervor against Rep. Peggy Bennett (R-27A, Albert Lea) and less they make a last-minute run, Bennett, will cross the finish line first.
56B discussed above.
The DFL captured the Rep. Greg Davids’ (R-28B, Preston) seat in 2006 and lost it in the subsequent election. As the Tax Chair Davids is a big target and a coup if caught. He encourages the attention and in fact relishes in it. He is a likeable guy, which is probably why he is in the insurance business. His opponent Thomas Trehus (DFL) will have a hard-fought victory, with a big personality if the can climb this mountain. The resources are there to make something happen.
44A this is the race we feel is ripe for the picking in the western Hennepin County suburbs. In 2012 Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-44A, Plymouth) defeated her opponent Audrey Britton (DFL) by 52.12% to 48.6% 2012 or 608 votes. This time Anderson’s challenger is Ginny Klevorn (DFL) and the late money is pouring in. The Trump effect is in full-throated form and the educated Republican may not show up or cast their scourge all the way down the ballot. We expect Anderson’s fate will be the same as Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN3).