Here we go again: With nearly all the votes counted, DFLer Mark Dayton led Republican Tom Emmer but by just more than 9,000 votes, triggering an automatic recount. Tom Horner had conceded early in the evening and has about 12 percent.
Chip Cravaack was the only challenger to win in Minnesota’s congressional districts, leading longtime incumbent Jim Oberstar by more than 4,000 votes.
In a stealth victory that no one saw coming, Republicans took control of both the Minnesota Senate and House. That means the parties’ fortunes are reversed (if Dayton’s lead holds up) because Republicans had held the governor’s office but not the Legislature.
In the governor’s race, Hennepin County officials acknowledged a problem in uploading some votes, which for a time gave the appearance that Dayton had more votes than he should have had, but said at midnight that the problem had been resolved.
Horner conceded about 10:30 p.m., saying it was a blessing to have been in the race.
Cravaack’s win and the Legislature’s changeover were the biggest surprises of the night in Minnesota.
Except for the close race in the 8th District, incumbents were re-elected in Minnesota’s congressional races.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won re-election over challenger Tarryl Clark in what has been called the most expensive House race ever.
DFL Congressman Tim Walz won a close race in the 1st District over Republican Randy Demmer; also winning were Democrats Betty McCollum in the 4th District and Keith Ellison in the 5th District and Colin Peterson in the 7th, and Republicans John Kline in the 2nd and Erik Paulsen in the 3rd.
In Wisconsin, three-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold lost to Republican Ron Johnson.
All three DFL constitutional officers — Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Auditor Rebecca Otto — won re-election.
In Ramsey County, longtime Sheriff Bob Fletcher lost to Matt Bostrom by about 15 percentage points. Fletcher has been sheriff for 16 years. Both men played roles in police protection during the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Nationally, Republicans will control the U.S. House of Representatives, gaining 60 seats; they had needed only 39 to become the majority. Republicans also made gains in the Senate. However, the Democrats retain control, but lost their filibuster-proof margin.
In Minnesota, the change in the U.S. House will have a big impact beyond the makeup of the state delegation, because GOP House control means 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson will lose his Agriculture Committee chairmanship. Had Oberstar won, he would have lost his role as chairman of the Transportation Committee.
The switch, though, also means 2nd District Rep. John Kline could become Education Committee chairman. And Bachmann was talking last night about being considered for a leadership position.
Other results, including mixed results for the Tea Party, are:
- An early Tea Party victory in Kentucky, where Rand Paul won the Senate race, beating Democrat Jack Conway. Rand is the son of Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, which means this will be the first time there’s been a father-son team in Congress with one in the Senate and one in the House.
- And in Florida, Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio won the Senate race by a wide margin in a three-way race, beating independent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek.
- High-profile Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell lost the Delaware Senate race to Democrat Chris Coons. (Bob Hume, an aide to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, took a leave to work on the Coons campaign.)
- In the West Virginia Senate seat, Democrat Joe Manchin, the state’s governor, beat Republican John Raese in a tight race for the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat.
- New York’s new governor will be Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the state’s attorney general. He beat Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino.