The Midterms: Minnesota

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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Today, we look at the Upper Midwestern state of Minnesota.  Here, there is a, by choice, open gubernatorial race, two Senate seats up for grabs, and 8 House seats which currently favors the Democrats 5-3.  However, three of those Democratic seats are open races this year.

The first Senate race features Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar taking on Republican Jim Newberger.  Considering that according to the most recent results from Morning Consult Klobuchar has a 58% approval rating in the state, she is a shoo-in for reelection.

The other Senate race is a special election to complete the term of serial groper and alleged comedian Al Franken.  Tina Smith was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton.  She is opposed by Republican Karin Housley.  Although one would not suspect it in a blue state like Minnesota, there are viable candidates here.  Personally, this writer wished former Governor Tim Pawlenty would have sought this nomination but he opted for an ill-fated gubernatorial run instead.

Special note: recently, one FP writer- the incomparable streiff- commented on this race in an article.  It can potentially be a sleeper race.  Read on…

This is an over-looked race considering that Smith has only a 41% approval rating in the state.  Nothing against Housley, but perhaps with a more viable, recognizable candidate for the GOP, this seat could have been put into play.  Granted, Smith- who looks like John Denver had he had a sex change- was an interim choice and Minnesota voters may be largely undecided.  Still, it is realistic to believe she will be sent back to the Senate in 2019.  The GOP may have missed an opportunity here.

In those Congressional races, the First District is being vacated by Democrat Tim Walz who is vying to succeed Mark Dayton as Governor.  This district lies along the southern border of Minnesota and flipped from nominally Obama in 2012 to solidly Trump in 2016.  Thus, the GOP has a rare opportunity for a pick-up here.

The race will feature Republican Jim Hagedorn against Democrat Dan Feehan.  Hagedorn has questioned Feehan’s patriotism by tying him not only to George Soros, but Colin Kaepernick.  When not on the defensive and explaining his patriotic credentials, Feehan has attacked Hagedorn for… you guessed it… denying people with pre-existing conditions health care coverage.

Hagedorn ran against Walz in 2014 and 2016 and even though 2014 was a tough year for Democrats, the NRCC gave up on the race early.  Without much outside support in 2016, Hagedorn then almost defeated Walz.  Perhaps, in an open race, three times is a charm.  Polling is almost non-existent with only one from August indicating a Hagedorn victory.

However, in the Second District, Republican incumbent Jason Lewis is facing a rematch against his 2016 opponent, Democrat Angie Craig.  Lewis is a former political shock jock who often made some outrageous comments on the radio.  In 2016, Craig made a great deal about this, but is choosing a different strategy this time out claiming his votes are more offensive.  Like elsewhere, she is referring to his vote to repeal Obamacare which would have killed many a Minnesota resident (sarcasm intended).  Lewis survived those attacks and won anyway, but 2018 may be different.  Some polling indicates that he is an average of 4.4 points under water.  He may be able to pull this one out, but there is a distinct possibility a potential Hagedorn victory in the First will be offset by a Lewis loss in the Second.

Erik Paulsen, the GOP incumbent in the Third, finds himself targeted every two years because he represents a Democratic district according to the Cook Political Report.  This year, he faces Dean Phillips and things do not look good here according to the polls with Paulsen down by almost an average of ten points.  That is not a good position to be in for an incumbent.  He has attacked Phillips for declaring that healthcare coverage is a moral right, but that he never provided any for his employees at a coffee shop he opened.  Phillips counters he used part time workers (apparently part time workers have no moral right to healthcare coverage).

Paulsen has also said that he has stood up to the Trump administration on environmental issues, but Phillips points to his votes in Congress against methane gas emission regulations and in support of the coal industry.

Surprise, surprise!  In the open Fifth being vacated by anti-Semitic Keith Ellison (who also likes to beat his girlfriends), the next Democratic Congress Critter from this district will be Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American female elected to Congress.  Now if only she were a lesbian…

Finally, in the Eighth, Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan has decided to call it quits this year as he ran for Lt. Governor on a losing Democratic gubernatorial ticket in the primary.  His former campaign manager Joe Radinovich is running against St. Louis County commissioner Pete Stauber for the GOP.  Radinovich has had many troubles with his campaign and just recently announced that his campaign manager had left the fold, although no reasons were given.  A week before, the DCCC announced that they were diverting over $800,000 from his campaign to the First and Second District races.

Three things are working against the Democrat here.  First, allegations that the 32-year-old Radinovich had been charged with 18 crimes, 30 traffic violations and possession of drug paraphernalia have kept him on the defensive.  He tried to explain them away, apparently on deaf ears.  Second, this district is located in the northeast corner of the state and the local economy is heavily dependent on ore mining.  Radinovich is being portrayed as anti-mining and that his environmental policies would hurt the local economy.  Third, although ancestrally blue, the district flipped from 52% Obama to 56% Trump in 2016.

Finally in that gubernatorial race, Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton has decided to retire rather than run for another term.  He made the decision when his approval ratings were in the toilet, but they have since rebounded.  Regardless, Tim Walz won the Democratic primary, as expected, while Jeff Johnson unexpectedly won the GOP primary.

Needless to say, Johnson was not the preferred choice of some Minnesota GOP operatives nor of the RGA.  Instead, they were counting on former Governor Tim Pawlenty to prevail.  Johnson had run to the right of Pawlenty in the primary.  As a result, although they made a significant financial commitment to this race when it looked like Pawlenty would win, that $3 million has now been withdrawn leaving Johnson to fend for himself.  In fact, during the primary season, there was considerable tension between Johnson and the DC Republican establishment and the RGA.  The ultimate result is this seat will remain Democratic come Election Day UNLESS Johnson pulls off one of the biggest surprises.  Not likely.

SO… what does this all mean in the House races?  Nothing.  Names will change, but the Democrats will still hold a 5-3 advantage with the following predictions:  the GOP takes the 1st and 8th, the Democrats take the 2nd and 3rd.

At the conclusion of this entry, the numbers stand thus:

US Senate 45-31 Republican, US House 124-119 Republican, and Governors 25-13 Republican.

Next: New York