All eyes are on the results in Senate District 54 and House District 23B this evening to see if any trends for the General Elections on November 6th can be seen in advance. Even though these are local legislative contests, the impact of the Presidency of Donald J Trump (R) and the Republican-controlled Congress are expected to be in full view and exist as a low-grade fever, that makes one feel just not right.

Republicans are pulling out all of the stops in this race. They are even spending money on cable television ads against former State Rep now Washington County Commissioner Karla Bingham (DFL-Cottage Grove). Over the weekend, anti-Bingham spots ran on Fox Sports North during the Timberwolves game.

There have been a number of interesting pieces of literature being sent out in Senate District 54 we would like to highlight, which are worth noting. Now, we are not even talking about substance or content, but something far pettier. Republicans have been sending out items which are Photoshopped to visually misrepresent Bingham in various mailings.  Because she has visible moles on one side of her face the same magically appear on another side as well, this is due to the reversing of the image to highlight the blemishes. Additionally, they have cast a greenish pallor on the images to try and paint her as eviller or cronelike. The problem is Republicans may have forgotten green is the color of the Incredible Hulk and the warning from Bruce Banner, was “You wouldn’t like me when I am angry.”

Now, these tactics may seem insignificant and sophomoric, but they may also underlie the nature of the overall Republican campaign approach. Remember the last election the Senate Republican Caucus paid $50,000 for their field operation to be run by Norm Coleman’s Independent Expenditure MN Action Network.

The DFL has seen fit to tie the demeanor of former Rep Denny McNamara (R) who avoided an Ethics charge of personal enrichment, by not seeking reelection in 2016. As you can see, the mailer they sent out over the weekend shows a Trump-like shadow and calls attention to the ethical problems of McNamara in the same piece.

Many critics of McNamara point to fact he voted aginst the transportation bill, which provided funding for the Hastings Bridge, which is a significant asset to the sommunity.

Trump carried the district by 618 votes, He lost on the A side in the communities of Cottage Grove, St Paul Park, and South St Paul, and won in the community of Hastings and the surrounding towns.

Since this election will determine the closeness of the majority in the State Senate, we will be tracking it closely over the course of the evening. We will once again point out the turnout during the Republican Primary in this Senate, the race was nearly one-third of that seen in House District 23B. We highlight this fact because the low Republican voter interest in a suburban district which is twice the size is significant.

The Race in Southern MN

The contest in House District 23B, located south of Mankato, will be the most telling if it were to change hands. Just as the Special Election in Hudson WI, last month sent tremors through the Badger State, so could the race between transplanted farmer/business owner Jeremy Munson (R) and life-long resident and Educator Melissa Wagner (DFL) may be telling.

The district includes portions of Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Waseca, and Watonwan counties and both candidates are from Lake Crystal, which is 13.2 mi Southwest from Mankato on Highway 60.

Munson is a cookie cutter Republican candidate who talks about less government involvement, free-market practices and cutting government waste. While Wagner also is an embodiment of her party as a School Social worker and Special Education Coordinator in the Minnesota Valley Education District and a legacy farmer.

Because the results of this election will not play any role in the effecting the strength of the majority, it would only be symbolic in its impact, but as an embolden force in the coming elections, it may be substantial.

Trump carried 23B with 58.98% of the vote and any erosion should be a positive message for the DFL.