Republicans wrestle Minnesota House majority from Democrats

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While Democrats in Minnesota had plenty to cheer about with the re-elections of Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Al Franken, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and other statewide constitutional officers, Republicans did some celebrating, too. Their party gained enough seats to take majority control in the Minnesota House.

DFLers held a 73-61 majority heading into the night, meaning the Republicans needed to pick up seven seats to take over control of the chamber.

The GOP toppled incumbent Democrats in at least 10 districts, mostly in greater Minnesota. That number does not include races in which there was no incumbent.

The districts in which a DFL incumbent lost:

  • 2A – Dave Hancock (R) def. Roger Erickson (DFL) (Red Lake area)
  • 10A – Joshua Heintzeman (R) def. John Ward (DFL) (Nisswa area)
  • 10B – Dale Lueck (R) def. Joe Radinovich (DFL) (Aitkin area)
  • 11B – Jason Rarick (R) def. Tim Faust (DFL) (Sandstone area)
  • 12A – Jeff Backer (R) def. Jay McNamar (DFL) (west-central Minnesota)
  • 17A – Tim Miller (R) def. Andre Falk (DFL) (Chippewa Co. area)
  • 17B – Dave Baker (R) def. Mary Sawatzky (DFL)
  • 24B – Brian Daniels (R) def. Patti Fritz (DFL) (just outside of Owatonna)
  • 27A – Peggy Bennett (R) def. Shannon Savick (DFL) (Albert Lea area)
  • 56B – Roz Peterson (R) def. Will Morgan (DFL) (south of Burnsville)

Of the 15 races where an incumbent was not running, Republicans won 10 of them. Democrats took five.

What the exact seat count will be isn't yet known, as some races are still too tight to declare a winner, and a few races are too close to call as of 5 a.m. Wednesday.

For the past two years, the DFL Party has had majorities in the House and Senate as well as a DFL governor. Now, the dynamics will shift since the House will be controlled by Republicans.

The Republican Party focused its attention on several rural and suburban districts that DFLers won two years ago.

"I'm very proud to announce that we're putting an end to single party DFL control," House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said at the GOP victory party.

Daudt had said earlier that if Republicans won the House they would prioritize transportation spending on roads and bridges and stabilize funding for nursing homes, according to MPR News. He also has said they would focus on lowering taxes and helping businesses.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, conceded early Wednesday that Democrats lost control of the chamber, MPR News reports.

"We knew all along that it was going to be a very close race, with millions and millions of dollars spent on these races," Thissen said, according to MPR. "I think a lot of the progress we had over the last two years put a lot of big corporate special interests at risk and they spent a lot of money to turn that around."

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