A Minnesota House race was decided by just 4 votes

That, and more interesting state and county results from Tuesday's elections.
Publish date:

If anyone ever tells you that your vote won't make a difference, direct them to the results of Minnesota House District 5A.

That's because DFL candidate John Persell flipped the Bemidji district by just 4 votes.

That's right, Persell beat the incumbent GOPer Matt Bliss by a margin of 0.02 percent, with Persell getting 8,434 votes to Bliss' 8,430.

It should also be pointed out that 7 people submitted write-in votes on the night.

It was one of 18 seats the Democrats gained on Tuesday night.

They needed only 11 to gain control of the House, but did it comfortably with many of their wins coming from the Twin Cities suburbs.

Here are some of the other interesting results in Minnesota's state and county races from Tuesday.

Jim Knoblach's district goes Democrat

If you'll recall, Republican Jim Knoblach abandoned his re-election campaign in House District 14B (St. Cloud) after his adult daughter claimed she was subjected to inappropriate touching by him since a young age.

Knoblach denied the allegation, but nonetheless disappeared from the campaign scene.

He still managed to get 41.67 percent of the vote in his district, but ultimately the seat flipped to DFLer Dan Wolgamott, who won with 58.07 percent.

Despite victories, Ellison and Blaha underperform

It was a clean sweep for Democrats in the race for governor, state auditor, attorney general and secretary of state.

But the results show that there were some underperforming Democrats despite victory, namely Keith Ellison and Julie Blaha.

Ellison triumphed over Republican Doug Wardlow, while Blaha was named state auditor over rival Pam Myhra, but neither candidate gained as many votes as our next governor, Tim Walz.

– Tim Walz: 1,392,345 votes.

– Keith Ellison: 1,248,776 votes.

– Julie Blaha: 1,250,077 votes.

We don't need to tell you that there were mixed feelings among swing voters about Ellison, and this seems to have been borne out by the 145,664 votes gained by Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Noah Johnson.

Comparatively, the cannabis candidate in the governor race got just 68,885 votes, suggesting many opted for Johnson over Ellison, despite Johnson's request that his supporters vote for the Democrat.

It was a similar case in the state auditor race, with the Legal Marijuana Now candidate Michael Ford getting more than 133,000 votes.

Doug Wardlow, meanwhile, outperformed Republican governor candidate Jeff Johnson, getting 1.15M votes to Johnson's 1.09M.

New sheriffs in Hennepin, Ramsey counties

One of the closest races of the night was for Hennepin County Sheriff, where GOP-endorsed incumbent Rich Stanek faced a strong challenge from DFL-backed Dave Hutch.

There were signs this would be a close race during the August primaries, when Stanek was unable to get a majority as the three candidates who were standing were whittled down to two.

It looks as though most of those who voted for Joseph Banks, who finished 3rd in the August primaries, went to Hutch, who looks to have won by the tiny margin of 0.44 percent over Stanek.

Hutch becomes the first openly-gay sheriff in the Midwest, and has pledged to run the sheriff's office more transparently, as well as offering more support for the county's immigrant and indigenous communities, and will "re-think" how the sheriff's office works with ICE.

In Ramsey County, Bob Fletcher, the 63-year-old current mayor of Vadnais Heights, won the position of Sheriff he had previously held for 16 years.

Fletcher decided to run against Jack Serier, who assumed the position of sheriff after former sheriff Matt Bostrom left for a job at Oxford University in December.

As WCCO describes, the race was contentious, with Fletcher accusing Serier of assuming the role illegally, saying he didn't live in Ramsey County when he took over the post.

The House was won in the suburbs

Control of the Minnesota House went from Republican to Democrat, with many of the DFL gains happening in the Twin Cities suburbs.

This mirrored what happened at the congressional level too, with suburban approval of President Donald Trump having dropped significantly since he took office, leading to the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts flipping Democrat.

In the Minnesota House races, among the GOP casualties were House Finance Committee Chair Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Sarah Anderson (Plymouth), Cindy Pugh (Chanhassen) and Dario Anselmo (Edina).

Check out this nifty graphic from former Pioneer Press turned CityLab reporter David Montgomery, which shows how the Twin Cities suburbs have turned blue, while the exurbs remain Republican strongholds.

This disparity between the urban and suburban Twin Cities versus the exurban areas around the metro can also be seen in the results for Hennepin County Sheriff.

Senate stays in GOP hands thanks to special election

While this was an off-year for Minnesota Senate elections, a special election had to be held to replace the outgoing Sen. Michelle Fischbach, who is now Lieutenant Governor under Gov. Mark Dayton.

The race couldn't have been more crucial, with control of the Minnesota Senate – deadlocked at 33-33 prior to the election – at stake.

And it'll stay in Republican hands after Jeff Howe won with 57 percent of the vote in the traditionally Republican Senate District 13, which covers St. Cloud and an area to the south and west.

It'll mean Minnesota is the only state in the country where the legislature is split between two parties.

The Democrats will look to flip the Senate when all 67 seats are up for re-election in 2020.

Next Up

PD Shimmers closeup

Man with Parkinson's lights up Plymouth with synchronized light show

"The best medicine I have for my disease is what I try to do with the light show," Mike Justak said.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.


When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.


Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.


Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.


Democrats takes control of the Minnesota House

It mirrored what happened at the national level.

Star Tribune endorses neither candidate in Minnesota AG race

The newspaper says Doug Wardlow and Keith Ellison are too partisan for the office.

Here's why 3 of Minnesota's U.S. House races are so important this election

Democrats and Republicans see these races as important – here's an explanation.

New poll has Doug Wardlow ahead of Keith Ellison in AG race

The Star Tribune/MPR News poll has the Republican up by 7 points.

Records broken as early voting gets underway in Minnesota

There's huge interest in casting ballots early.

Keith Ellison wins contentious Attorney General race

Both candidates had been mired in controversy.

Early voting is almost at 2016 levels in Minnesota

This is highly unusual for a non-presidential election.