The variables keep changing for the 2016 elections. This is a quick, overall look at the 2016 elections as they stand today.
The office of Governor, currently held by Democrat Mark Dayton, is not up for election until 2018. Neither U.S. Senate seat is up this cycle. The current incumbents, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, are both Democrats. Second term Senator Klobuchar’s seat is up for election in 2018 and Franken’s in 2020.
Minnesota holds precinct caucuses on March 1, 2016. This is Super Tuesday with eight other states – Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Minnesota recently changed the date of the caucuses in order to have more say in the Presidential nomination. This will be the first foray into Super Tuesday for our state.
Minnesota State Senate
Ten current State Senators have stepped down or announced their retirements after the 2016 Session, five GOP and five DFL members. The current membership of the Minnesota Senate is 39 DFL members and 27 Republicans with one vacant seat. A Special Election will be held February 9, for the Brandon Petersen seat in Senate District 35. This seat is likely to remain Republican.
The DFL controls the Senate and in order for the GOP to take the Majority, the GOP has to maintain their 28 seats and flip six DFL seats. While the GOP may be able to pick up a few seats, picking up six seats will be difficult.
Minnesota House of Representatives
The current House membership is 72 Republicans and 61 DFLers with one vacant seat. Two special elections were held recently and the DFL maintained those seats. There is one more Special Election to be held on February 9 for the seat formerly held by Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington). The district leans DFL, but the GOP has a viable candidate running.
The House DFL Caucus needs to maintain their existing numbers and flip 6 seats in order to take control of the House. Of course, the GOP will do everything they can to maintain their majority. When the GOP won the House majority in 2014, they did so by concentrating on GOP-leaning rural seats and therefore do not have as many vulnerable freshman to defend in 2016.
US Congressional Races
The current split of the Minnesota Congressional delegation is five Democrats and three Republicans. All eight seats will be up for election in 2016.
Rep. John Kline (R) is retiring after this term representing Minnesota’s Second Congressional District. Multiple candidates have lined up for the seat over the past 6 months. There are six GOP candidates running thus far. The Democrats have had a very public debate over the past few months and one candidate, Angie Craig, has risen to the top. This will be a competitive race.
Rep. Rick Nolan (D) is the incumbent in the Eighth District. He served previously in 1975-1981 in another Minnesota district. The Eighth Congressional District encompasses a huge part of northern Minnesota and includes the Iron Range. Nolan will face businessman Stewart Mills in a rematch. Mills lost by 3700 votes in 2014. This is a very competitive race.
The rest of the congressional seats will draw candidates, but will not be as competitive as the Second and Eighth Districts.