Skip to main content

The talking points from Tuesday's Minnesota primary election

Election season now starts in earnest.

If you missed the hullaballoo of Tuesday's Minnesota primaries, we've got you covered.

You probably know by now that this November, Minnesotans will take to the polls to select their next governor, and the choice will be between Democrat Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson – more on which you can read here.

Outside of the governor race, there were several more interesting talking points from the evening. Here's a look at some of them:

History made in the U.S. Senate race

For the first time in Minnesota's history, two women candidates will contest the race for a seat on the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Sen. Tina Smith, who took over the seat vacated by Al Franken in January, comfortably won the DFL primary ahead of Richard Painter, receiving more than 430,000 votes. 

And she'll be challenged by State Sen. Karin Housley for the Republicans. The St. Croix River Valley senator won 62 percent of the GOP vote ahead of Bob Anderson with 36 percent.

Ilhan Omar set to become CD-5's next Member of Congress

There's still an election to come, of course, but given the 5th Congressional District is so heavily Democrat, last night's primary was effectively the crowning of the state's next Member of Congress.

And that will be Rep. Ilhan Omar, who in 2016 became the first Somali-American state lawmaker in the country, and will now almost certainly become the first Somali-American woman in Congress, and one of the first Muslim women in Congress (Rashida Tlaib is favored to win in Michigan).

Omar beat competition from Margaret Kelliher and Patricia Torres Ray, getting 48 percent of the vote.

Among those congratulating her was Democratic contender for Congress in New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Battle lines drawn in toss-up races

Two of the biggest toss-up races in the nation this year could be in Minnesota's 1st and 8th Congressional Districts.

The always competitive 8th is even more so this year given DFLer Rick Nolan's retirement, and the President Trump-backed Pete Stauber won the GOP nomination, and will face off against Nolan's former campaign manager, Joe Radinovich, for the Democrats.

In the 1st, aiming to fill gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz's position for the Democrats is Dan Feehan, who won 83 percent of the vote. He will face perennial contender Jim Hagedorn, who overcame a challenge from Rochester state lawmaker Carla Nelson.

Expect a lot of money to be spend in these districts ahead of November.

President Trump congratulates Jeff Johnson

While President Trump didn't officially endorse Jeff Johnson or Tim Pawlenty ahead of Wednesday's primary, despite Johnson being a more fervent supporter of his.

He did however give a shout-out to Pawlenty's running mate, Michelle Fischbach, during his campaign stop in Duluth in June.

Anyway, the president passed on his congratulations and support to Johnson on Wednesday morning.

Hennepin County Sheriff's race heats up

There were three candidates on the ballot for Hennepin County Sheriff, with the top 2 going through to a final vote this November.

Incumbent Rich Stanek got the most votes, but at 49.2 percent didn't get the majority.

That opens the door for runner-up Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson, who with 34.5 percent of the vote finished ahead of third contender Joseph Banks (16.25 percent).

While sheriff's races are non-partisan, Stanek was endorsed by the GOP while Hutc and Banks had Democratic backing. Expect many of Banks supporters to shift over to Hutch, making for a close race in November, when Democratic turnout is expected to be strong.

Keith Ellison overcomes late allegations

Allegations of domestic abuse against Keith Ellison didn't stop him getting a resounding victory in the DFL race for Attorney General.

He won comfortably against challenges including Debra Hilstrom and DFL-endorsed Matt Pelikan, and will now face GOPer Doug Wardlow in November.

Addressing the allegations on Tuesday, Ellison said: "We had a very unexpected event at the end of this campaign. That happened. I want to assure you that it's not true. We are going to keep fighting all the way through. We are going to stand upon the truth and insist upon the truth."

Expect the claims against Ellison, which he denies, to feature heavily going forward. 

In fact, Wardlow has already referenced it in a post on Facebook, saying: "I will bring integrity and morality to the office, not allegations of domestic violence or clouded judgment."

Only one change in the Minnesota House

There were 7 primary challenges to incumbent Minnesota House members on Wednesday, but only one was successful.

Republican Rep. Bob Loonan was beaten by a challenger from within his own party, Shakopee businessman Erick Mortensen in District 53A.

Elsewhere, DFL-endorsed Robert Bierman won the race to succeed Rep. Erin Maye Quade in Apple Valley, who ran as Erin Murphy's running mate. 

St. Paul is about to get a new councilor

A special election in St. Paul's Ward 4 was won by Mitra Jalali Nelson, a renters' rights candidate who got 54 percent of the vote, ahead of Shirley Erstad on 41 percent.

David Martinez, the candidate who has been arrested several times in the past few weeks, as well as being thrown out of Target Field and St. Paul libraries, got 5 percent of the vote.

Next Up

DeShaun Hill

Cody Fohrenkam found guilty of Deshaun Hill Jr.'s murder

The 15-year-old was fatally shot on Feb. 9, 2022.

Screen Shot 2023-01-26 at 12.15.23 PM

Gov. Tim Walz proposes $3.3B for aging infrastructure

Walz's borrowing plan comes days after the release of his two-year state budget proposal.

Screen Shot 2023-01-26 at 8.43.35 AM

Children's Theatre Company actors lose belongings in damaging house fire

The fire broke out Tuesday morning shortly after the dryer had been started.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

Biden Admin. imposes 20-year mining ban near Boundary Waters

The moratorium is the maximum the Department of the Interior can implement without congressional approval.


Historic St. Paul building to be removed, put in storage after public outcry

The building was set to be demolished before community members spoke out against it.


Minnesota's COVID update for the week ending Tuesday, Jan. 24

Hospitalizations dipped for a second week in a row.


RECAP: Minnesota primary election results 2018

The latest updates as tens of thousands of votes are counted.

Minnesota Election 2018 results as they happened

It was an excitement-filled day in Minnesota.

Early voting is almost at 2016 levels in Minnesota

This is highly unusual for a non-presidential election.

Minnesota primaries 2018: The most intriguing battles to watch

Expect some tight races when voters select candidates next week.

What is the national media saying about Minnesota's primaries?

Tim Pawlenty's defeat has got the media talking.

Poll shows drop in Trump, Republican support in Minnesota

But the president's support is more resilient here than in Wisconsin or Michigan.

After Ellison backs marijuana legalization, third party candidate backs him

Noah Johnson will try and direct his supporters to vote for Keith Ellison.

LIVE UPDATES: Minnesota presidential primary 2020

The latest updates as Minnesotans vote for their presidential candidates.