Franken and Dayton win re-election; Minnesota House goes Republican

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Sen. Al Franken monitoring election results from his hotel suite on Tuesday night.

It was a long way from the days of recounts.

Sen. Al Franken, a recount winner six years ago, and Gov. Mark Dayton, who also won following a recount four years ago, both were declared victors by television networks within moments of the polls closing Tuesday evening.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar framed Franken’s political career this way:  “Last time it was six months, this time it was six seconds.’’  The line drew laughs, but it also was accurate. Recall, just six years ago, Franken didn’t know for six months how his race against incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman would turn out. After months of recounts, he won — by 312 votes.

This time, it was a stunningly easy triumph over Republican challenger Mike McFadden, who conceded with an emotional speech at about 10:20 p.m.

By the middle of the night, however, it became clear that control of the Minnesota House had flipped to the Republicans, re-instituting divided state government in Minnesota. 

Franken will be heading back to a different Senate than the one he entered six years ago. He will now be in the minority, as Republicans regained control of the legislative body for the first time in eight years after picking up seats in Arkansas, Iowa, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and North Carolina (so far). 

Dayton’s victory was just as shockingly one-sided over GOP challenger Jeff Johnson. The margin of Dayton’s win far-exceeded what recent polls had shown, and Johnson called Dayton late in the evening, conceding defeat. “It’s a difficult call to make,’’ Dayton said of Johnson’s concession. “It’s a difficult call to make — I know that from experience.’’

Dayton not only thanked those who supported him, but had words for those who voted against him. “We all want the same for Minnesota,’’ he said. “We just disagree on the details.’’ 

The size of the Dayton-Franken victories not only had DFLers gathered at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis smiling — it had them hopeful that lopsided wins would help the party pull out victories in the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts, where incumbents Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan were facing tough opposition from Republicans Torrey Westrum and Stewart Mills. They both went on to win — Nolan by less than two percentage points. 

At the Loews Hotel, only a few blocks from the Hilton, Republicans were holding onto hope that Mills would win and become the GOP’s new “rock star,’’  but it wasn’t to be. They also were confident that the party could take over the majority in the state House, and by early morning it did. 

The closeness of the House races showed up in District 48A, where a recount will be in order following the race between incumbent DFLer Yvonne Selcer and former state representative Kirk Stensrud. At this point, Selcer is a winner, but the champagne corks aren’t being popped. She has a lead of just 36 votes.

Much of what happened Tuesday night was predictable. In the 1st Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Tim Walz sailed past the GOP’s Jim Hagedorn; in the 2nd, incumbent Republican John Kline had little problem against Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller; in the 3rd, Republican Erik Paulsen had a no-anxiety win over Democrat Sharon Sund; and the 4th and 5th Districts remained safe seats for Democrats Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison. 

The 6th District also went as expected, but there’s context to the story. Republican Tom Emmer was a recount loser to Dayton four years ago. He was an easy winner in his congressional race against Democrat Joe Perske Tuesday, and now will go to D.C., the successor to Michele Bachmann.

The down-ticket races went as expected. Incumbent attorney general Lori Swanson and incumbent auditor Rebecca Otto both won with ease.  DFLer Steve Simon won a narrow victory over Republican Dan Severson in the race to replace Mark Ritchie as secretary of state. 

In Minneapolis, a bitterly fought race for two at-large Minneapolis School Board seats saw DFL-endorsed incumbent Rebecca Gagnon finish first, capturing 33.5 percent of the vote. The other party endorsee, labor activist Iris Altamirano, was edged out by two points for the other seat by former city council member Don Samuels. Most of the rest of the votes went to Ira Jourdain. The race made national headlines in recent weeks after an infusion of cash from education reform advocates and teacher unions pushed spending to at least $500,000 — some five times as much as record-setting races in 2012 and 2010. In the races tied to geographic districts, DFL endorsees Siad Ali, Jenny Arneson and Nelson Inz won. Ali and Arneson ran unopposed.

Two Minneapolis ballot measures also passed easily. Question No. 2’s passage rids the city’s charter of a requirement that neighborhood restaurants have at least 70 percent of sales in food vs. beer and wine. Question No. 1’s passage will mean that filing fees for city offices will be raised — an attempt to cut down on the large number of candidates who entered last year’s ranked choice city election. 

For more details and results on other Minnesota races, check out MinnPost’s 2014 election dashboard.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/05/2014 - 06:29 am.


    I think in Minnesota at least, the one loss is where we demonstrated hubris in the form of a senate office building.

  2. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 11/05/2014 - 06:44 am.


    The rest of the country saw the light and kicked their Dems out. If the Democrats had taken the Senate and House we would get to see the real Barack Hussein Obama with unrestrained power and that would not be fun. It will be interesting to see how he works with (or against) the opposition party in both houses.

    With regards to this state, we now have some balance in the power structure so hopefully the bleeding will stop or at least slow down. While surrounding states are cutting taxes and creating more favorable business and living environments, that won’t happen here.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/05/2014 - 08:08 am.

      Just curious

      Do you make a habit of referring to ALL candidates of EITHER party by their full given names?

      And if not, why do you choose to do so when referring to President Obama?

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 11/05/2014 - 08:47 am.


      Was that a fake Barack Hussein Obama who was in office from 2008-2010? I seem to recall supermajorities…

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 11/05/2014 - 09:22 am.

      What planet?

      Weird. Your conclusions are weird.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/05/2014 - 09:39 am.


      You look forward to shutdowns then. That’s ok, after the next 50 futile attempts at repealing healthcare, a few more debt ceiling crises, a few symbolic votes on gay marriage and abortion, and a whole lot of economic stagnation as Republicans do what they are best at, nothing, the stage will be set for things to swing back to the good in 2016. Don’t worry about the rest of us, we’re patient.

  3. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/05/2014 - 08:19 am.


    Completely agree Pavel.

  4. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/05/2014 - 09:47 am.


    I find the difference in metro vs. rural voters interesting. It seems many rural voters side with republicans while democrats receive the majority of the metro votes. I think there may be a disconnect in the values of the rural and metro voters but am unsure why. Many times we hear how a vote for republicans is a vote for the wealthy elite and against the middle class while the DFL party has farmers right in the name. This seems to fly in the face of what the voting shows since most rural voters are middle to lower class and not of the wealthy elite or even close while the higher income (although higher expenses of metro living also) metro residents seem to vote mainly DFL. It is difficult to find any kind of reasoning for all of this.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 11/05/2014 - 12:07 pm.

      It’s possible…

      that people in a Metropolitan area have more contact with government or see the impact of government more in their daily lives.

      This is all a guess, but farmers, ranchers, rural citizens surely have much less interaction with the actions of government.

      Do rural citizens think of government as something from the outside? Do metropolitan area residents see government as something they are part of? I don’t want to use the word ‘fear’, but certainly when you are familiar with government and have day to day interactions with its actions, there is less reason to be apprehensive.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/05/2014 - 01:07 pm.

        I think that you have the misconception that people in rural MN go to town only once every month or so if you think that. The governments presence is felt no matter where you live. This isn’t little house on the prairie out here. Most people are very familiar with government no matter if they live in the metro or in rural MN. That is lousy reasoning.

        • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 11/05/2014 - 02:41 pm.

          Is it?

          Do rural residents drive on pothole-littered streets for 2 months every Spring? Do rural residents see the benefits of light rail every day? Do rural residents drive on over-crowded freeways every day? Do rural residents bump into multiple people from different cultures every day? Hear multiple languages spoken every day? See beggars on their highway or street corners? See a magnificent new publicly financed stadium every day? Are they impacted every day for over a year by a bridge falling into the Mississippi River?

          A metro area resident experiences the impact of government many times a day in ways that a rural resident may never experience.

          • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/05/2014 - 04:02 pm.

            What rural residents see

            I’m going to say yes, no because we see the negatives of funding it, yes but only because they are overcrowded 2 lane roads instead of freeways, yes definetly we do meet people from different cultures and hear multiple languages every day, yes we do see beggars, we may not see the new stadium every day but we do feel the effect, yes we are impacted in many ways by a bridge falling into the river. There are also many experiences rural residents have that metro ones do not. What exactly is the point you are trying to make? That you are better than rural/greater MN residents or that somehow rural/greater MN residents do not deserve as much representation or something?

          • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 11/05/2014 - 06:51 pm.


            you have mentioned a lot of downsides about urban living. Was that your intention?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/05/2014 - 12:26 pm.

      Its because your view is dated

      Farmers are no longer the little guy just trying to make a living, farming is a corporate entity like any other, and its support is likewise. Also the rural population is older, and hence more concerned with the old social issue fights that many in the younger generations have discarded as ridiculous. Personally I find the results encouraging, the DFL held most of the competitve suburban districts, and as the rural/exuburan population declines (as population trends suggest) its relevance will wane more and more every redistricting. As the GOP takes such a large measure of its support from these areas (and as it seems to become more and more concentrated in ONLY those areas) it certainly does not bode well for long term success

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/05/2014 - 04:05 pm.


        I hope you are wrong because the last thing I want is to vote in a governor that appoints a judge that has no business being one. The one he appointed this past year has no business being an attorney or judge whatsoever because she has displayed a lack of tact, legal knowledge, and general morals and ethics. If you voted for that you have been as fooled by as our governor was by the patronizing, brown-nosing suck-up she is. If he had any brains at all he would have seen right through her act.

Leave a Reply