Recapping Minnesota's Primary Election

by Stinson Leonard Street

Minnesota’s Primary Election was held yesterday, Tuesday, August 12. This was the busiest primary election Minnesota has seen in many years as more Republicans chose to buck the party endorsement process and let voters decide their fate, particularly in the Gubernatorial bid. Despite that, low voter turnout was expected, and ultimately less than 10% of eligible voters cast ballots last night.

U.S. Senate

In the GOP race to take on sitting U.S. Senator Al Franken (D), Mike McFadden won handily. With 71% of the vote, McFadden's race was called by 9:30 p.m. McFadden is an independently wealthy candidate who is new to the political realm. His challenger, Rep. Abeler failed to gain significant momentum or money, and that was clearly evident in yesterday’s results. In the general election this November, expect this race to be significantly influenced by a lot of outside money.


The GOP race for governor was closer than many predicted. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was favored to win after getting the party's endorsement in May. With nearly 185,000 ballots cast and three others in the race, Johnson beat his rivals with only 30.3% of the vote. It was a highly competitive race with former House Minority Leader Rep. Marty Seifert at 21.11%, businessman Scott Honour at 20.86%, and former Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers at 23.93%. Johnson will face sitting governor Mark Dayton in the general election. This race was the most watched in GOP circles, and each candidate employed a sound strategy evidenced by yesterday’s tight race.

Secretary of State

In a less-publicized primary, Rep. Steve Simon won the DFL endorsement for Secretary of State with 42.69% of the vote. Simon will face former state Rep. Dan Severson in November. Current Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is not running for reelection.

State Auditor

The most contentious DFL primary of evening was between the sitting State Auditor Rebecca Otto and former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza. Otto was endorsed at the DFL convention in May. Entenza’s entrance into this race gave many DFL party faithful significant consternation, viewing his bid as causing unnecessary turmoil in the party. The race was called early in the evening, with Otto at 80.94% and Entenza at 19.06%. Otto will face GOP candidate Randy Gilbert.

Attorney General

In the GOP race for Attorney General, Scott Newman beat Sharon Anderson, 63.23% to 36.77%. Newman will face sitting Attorney General Lori Swanson in November.

Legislative Races

In the Minnesota Legislature, the House of Representatives only is up for re-election this year.

  • 5A (Bemidji) – Sitting state Rep. Persell (DFL) handily beat his opponent Lavern Pederson, 84.6% to 15.4%.
  • 6A (Hibbing) – Sitting state Rep. Melin (DFL) easily beat her opponent John Finken, 80%-20%.
  • 30B (Albertville) – In a seat being vacated by Rep. David FitzSimmons, Eric Lucero beat Kevin Kasel 64%-36% in the GOP primary.
  • 35A (Anoka) – In a seat being vacated by Rep. Abeler, Abigail Whelan beat Justin Boals, 80%-20% in the GOP primary.
  • 44B (Minnetonka) – In a seat being vacated by Rep. John Benson, there was a competitive three way DFL primary. Jon Applebaum won with 37.58%, while his rivals Tony Wagner and Jon Tollefson came in with 36.26% and 26.16%, respectively.
  • 47A (Mayer) – In a seat being vacated by Rep. Leidiger, Jim Nash beat Bob Frey, 60%-40% in the GOP primary.
  • 48B (Eden Prairie) – Sitting state Rep. Loon (GOP) beat her opponent Sheila Kihne, 60%-40%.
  • 51A (Eagan) – In a race to take on sitting Rep. Masin, there was a GOP primary between Victor Lake and Andrea Todd-Harlin. Andrea won 55%-45%.
  • 55A (Shakopee) – In a seat being vacated by Rep. Beard, there was a very tight race between Bruce Mackenthun and Bob Loonan. Loonan won 50.6%-49.4%.
  • 60B (Minneapolis) – Long-serving state Rep. Kahn beat her DFL opponent, Mohamud Noor, 55%-45%.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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