The results of a number of political races in Minnesota promise to have national ramifications, meaning a lot of eyes are on the state as Election Day looms.
Here are the races they're watching (and that you should be watching, too).
- U.S. Senate: Tina Smith (D) vs. Karen Housley (R)
Two U.S. Senate seats normally wouldn't be in contention in the same year, but the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken made this special election necessary – and one whose results are hotly anticipated.
It pits Democratic incumbent Sen. Tina Smith, the former lieutenant governor who was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill in for Franken, against Republican State Sen. Karen Housley.
Polling indicates a fairly tight race, though Smith does lead Housley by a few points.
Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is running for reelection against Republican Jim Newberger. She holds a commanding lead in the polls.
- U.S. House District 1: Dan Feehan (D) vs. Jim Hagedorn (R)
District 1 – which covers a vast swath of southern Minnesota – is up for grabs after Rep. Tim Walz announced he'd be leaving Congress to run for Minnesota governor (more on that later).
The two men vying for his seat, Democrat Dan Feehan and Republican Jim Hagedorn, are in a neck-and-neck race, with recent polling indicating a slight lead for Hagedorn.
The New York Times published an in-depth look at the campaign.
- U.S. House District 2: Jason Lewis (R) vs. Angie Craig (D)
Republican incumbent Rep. Jason Lewis is once again defending his seat from Angie Craig, a Democratic businesswoman. He defeated her in 2016, but this time around, polling shows she has a strong lead over Lewis – in the double digits in at least one survey.
- U.S. House District 3: Erik Paulsen (R) vs. Dean Phillips (D)
This contentious race has also come to be defined by TV ads – including a bigfoot-themed one that went viral.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen is defending his seat against Dean Phillips, a Twin Cities Democrat who owns Penny's Coffee in Minneapolis. Throughout the campaign, Phillips has maintained a healthy lead in the polls – currently, it stands at five to nine points.
- U.S. House District 8: Joe Radinovich (D) vs. Peter Stauber (R)
Always hotly contested, House District 8 came up for grabs this year with Rep. Rick Nolan's (D) announcement that his current term in Congress would be his last.
- Minnesota Governor: Jeff Johnson (R) vs. Tim Walz (D)
The state's highest office is up for grabs as Gov. Mark Dayton retires from his role.
His opponent in the 2014 governor's race, Hennepin Co. Commissioner Jeff Johnson, is running for the job again, this time against Democratic Congressman Tim Walz (who decided not to seek reelection to his seat representing Minnesota House District 1).
A RealClearPolitics average of the latest polls shows Walz with a seven-point lead over Johnson.
- Minnesota Attorney General: Keith Ellison (D) vs. Doug Wardlow (R)
In an election year full of contentious races, the one for the MN Attorney General's office stands out.
Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow, a former state representative, are squaring off for the job, and both have been dogged by ghosts from the past.
Ellison has fought domestic abuse allegations as well as public scrutiny of his former marriage, while Wardlow has been attacked for a political mailer described as Islamophobic as well as accusations over anti-gay bullying in his youth, among other charges.
Notably, the Star Tribune took the unusual step of endorsing neither candidate in an editorial that said both would be too partisan for the office they seek.
Nonetheless, polls show Wardlow has gained an edge over Ellison, with a Star Tribune poll showing the Republican pulling ahead about seven points late last month.
- MN Senate District 13: Jeff Howe (R) vs. Joe Perske (D)
In yet another up-for-grabs race created by an unexpected vacancy, Republican Jeff Howe and Democrat Joe Perske are looking to replace state Sen. Michelle Fischbach, who left her seat to serve as lieutenant governor (a post previously held by Sen. Tina Smith).
As many observers have noted, the special election for District 13 will decide control of the state Senate (which is currently in GOP hands).
That means a likely uphill battle for Democrat Perske, as the district – which covers a chunk of central Minnesota – has been solidly Republican in the past.
However, it's hard to predict the outcome for this contest as polling data is hard to come by for such a race.
Nonetheless, the St. Cloud Times says the campaign has been "intense," with accusations surfacing that Perske violated campaign finance laws, and nearly a quarter of a million dollars in "outside spending" being poured into the race.
- Hennepin Co. Sheriff: Rich Stanek vs. Dave Hutchinson
Longtime incumbent Sheriff Rich Stanek is running for reelection against Dave Hutchinson, the DFL-enforsed candidate for the office.
As MinnPost notes, this race has seen its fair share of "finger-pointing," as the two candidates have accused one another of "illegal campaign activity."
Hutchinson has been an officer with the Metro Transit Police Department since 2006, his website says.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.