Minnesota keeps its divided legislature as some seats flip

Here's a look at what this means.

It appears the Minnesota Legislature will remain divided, with Democrats projected to continue to control the House and Republicans the Senate. 

All 201 seats in the state legislature were on the ballot this year, and although not all races have projected winners, it appears there will only be minor shifts in the number of seats each party controls.

The House

In the Minnesota House, the DFL had a 16-member majority going into the election and it has held onto some of the majority it gained in the 2018 election. Some seats have appeared to have flipped, but it doesn't appear Republicans picked up enough, which was expected. 

The districts that appear to have flipped include: 

In District 5A, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears a Republican has won the seat from a Democrat. Republican Matt Bliss had 55.93% of the vote to incumbent Democrat John Persell's 43.89% for the District 5A seat, the Secretary of State's website shows. Persell, DFL-Bemidji, lost his re-election bid to Bliss of Pennington in 2016, and then Persell defeated Bliss by 11 votes in 2018. 

In District 6A, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears a Republican has flipped the district. Incumbent Julie Sandstede had 49.84% of the vote to Republican challenger Robert Farnsworth's 50.05%, results show.

In District 19A, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears a Republican has flipped the district. Incumbent Jeff Brand appears to have lost the race with 49.66% of the vote to challenger Republican Susan Akland's 50.16%, results show. 

In District 27B, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears Republicans have flipped the district. Incumbent DFLer Jeanne Poppe had 34.25% of the vote to Republican Patricia Mueller's 65.65% of the vote, results show.

In District 54A, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears Republicans flipped the seat with incumbent DFLer Anne Claflin securing 48.45% of the vote to Republican challenger Keith Franke's 51.42%.

In District 55A, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it appears Republicans flipped with the district with incumbent DFLer Brad Tabke winning 44.99% of the vote to Republican challenger Erik Mortensen's 47.42%. Meanwhile, Legal Marijuana Now candidate Ryan Martin had 7.4% of the vote (1,705 votes).

That being said, as of noon Wednesday, there are three Minnesota House races that are currently within recount range. They are District 6A, District 19A and District 38B, election officials.

The Senate

In the state Senate, where Republicans had a slight majority (35-32) prior to the election, it appears the GOP has retained its majority after Republicans and Democrats flipped two seats apiece. 

Among them:

In District 27, Republicans gained a seat after Gene Fornik secured 53.09% of the vote, beating Democrat incumbent Dan Sparks, who had 40.08% of the vote. Meanwhile, Legal Marijuana Now's Tyler Becvar had 6.75% of the vote (1,697 votes), results show.

However, the results aren't final: 

In District 44, Democrats gained a seat after Ann Johnson Stewart secured 58.78% of the vote to defeat Republican Greg Pulles, who had 41.18% of the vote. Republican Paul Anderson, who previously held the seat, did not seek re-election. 

In District 56, Democrats gained a seat after Lindsey Port secured 53.03% of the vote, defeating Republican incumbent Dan Hall, who had 46.86% of the vote. 

In District 58, Republicans gained a seat after GOPer Zach Duckworth secured 55.5% of the vote to beat incumbent Democrat Matt Little, who received 44.41% of the vote, results show. Little conceded Wednesday morning. 

So what does this mean?

Minnesota was the only state to have a divided legislature after the 2018 election, but it's unclear if the state is keeping that title following this year's election. 

Either way, having a divided legislature with a Democratic governor in Tim Walz will likely look a lot like it has since Democrats won control of the House after the 2018 election. Each party will have its priorities, but they'll have to work together to get anything passed, which has been proven difficult in previous years. 

This coming year, though, the Legislature has a few big tasks ahead of them. Here's a look at some issues: 

Redistricting: State and congressional district maps are redrawn every 10 years based on the census. This year, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature will have the power to draw Minnesota's projected seven congressional districts (down from the eight the state has now).

This could affect the balance of power in the state for years to come, WCCO notes.

The deadline to enact the newly redrawn districts is February 2022.

COVID-19: How the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on what happens in the legislature, too. 

Republicans promised to reopen Minnesota if they won control of the House and Senate, bringing an end to Gov. Tim Walz's emergency powers and "reopening the economy." However, their "contract" with voters didn't offer anything for COVID-19 mitigation, with their plan aimed at recommending Minnesotans follow COVID-19 measures rather than mandating them.

Although they didn't win the majority in both chambers, Rep. Pat Garafalo, a Republican, hints that the GOP may have enough votes to end the governor's emergency powers anyway seeing as some Democrats voted with Republicans during previous special sessions. This will remain to be seen, though.

Meanwhile, the legislature will be tasked with how to handle the projected $4.7 billion budget deficit as a result of the pandemic. 

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