Prognosticating the effects of the MeToo movement, the aftermath of the resignation of US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and the lack of Due Process, the appearance of an establishment decision with the installation of Lt Governor Tina Smith (D-MN) into the seat, and the potential response of the electorate in November it is a hard to scry from our crystal ball.  The 2018 Minnesota election commences with a ruckus start. An additional component to the Franken departure is the resistance by Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R-13, Paynesville) to her ascension to the Lt Governor’s position and intention to seek reelection to the seat once it is open.

We will also note the Special Election after the resignation of Sen Dan Schoen (DFL-54, Cottage Grove) filings begin today unless there is a need for a Primary the race will pit former state Rep, now Washington County Commissioner Karla Bingham (DFL-Cottage Grove) again another former Rep Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), This creates an interesting political landscape because if Bingham is elected and Fischbach is ruled against holding two offices the state Senate will be tied 33-33.

With two women set as the first two races on the ballot–US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) –is a male gubernatorial candidate more/less likely? Will the path be easier for Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN01), former St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (DFL-MN) or Rep Paul Thissen (DFL-61B, Minneapolis)? The answer is, it depends.

It will likely be a factor during the DFL State Convention June 1-3rd in Rochester where the convention is balanced by gender 50/50, which in this case is a benefit to the male candidates. As the over 1200 delegates make their thoughts known for endorsement they take a stand, but will it prevent a Primary challenge? Not likely.

As the DFL Ticket is being considered, does the current political climate change as considerations are made for the state’s Chief Executive? It is important to balance the variety of interests and this means the picture postcard of the DFL should reflect both diversity and stability, but should not appear to have been constructed by checking off particular boxes.

The definitions of leadership seem to be shifting. Accounting for the broader community has been the challenge created since the involvement of women in the process. All male leadership must prove it can it adapt, show its own evolution or it will become passé or even extinct.

Fathers with daughters are often good people to look to. They have seen the challenges young women face as they grow into their own. The aspirations men feel for their children is palpable and understandable, but one wonders if this is comparable to the experience of a woman herself.

We exist in a dualistic society of men and women, and in some cases, people transitioning from one gender to another and these differences are significant and have a political impact. Conversations about access to bathrooms and sports teams coupled with discrimination sexual harassment are large and weighty issues.

One fundamental truth is a Republican has not been elected to statewide office since Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) was elected 2006 and the DFL Party is hoping that string continues. One major concern on the horizon is redistricting in 2021. Whichever party controls the governorship is essential to that process.

On the Republican side

So far, the field for the US Senate consists of state Rep Jim Newberger (R-15B, Becker) who is making what is likely a futile bid against Klobuchar and state Sen Karin Housley (R-39, St Mary’s Point) who is challenging Smith. Today, Housely announced she had raised $170,000 in her election efforts since announcing in December.  

On December 2, the Republican Central Committee held a straw poll and the victor with over 30% was Rep Matt Dean (R-38B, Dellwood) followed by the 2014 Republican-endorsed candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R-MN) with 26%, former Republican Party Chair Keith Downey with 17% and the lone woman recent entry Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens (R) with less than 9%. Sen David Osmek (R-33, Mound) who had a poor showing with around 7% announced today he would not be running.

We are not sure if a woman centric DFL ticket can prevail, but one thing is assured the Republican ticket will likely look distinctively different than the DFL one.