GOP’s Anderson scores upset in special election for Bloomington House seat

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson for State Representative
Chad Anderson

House Republicans will head into the 2016 legislative session with one extra vote on their side.

Republican candidate Chad Anderson bested two-term DFL Bloomington City Council member Andrew Carlson 51 to 49 percent in a special election for House District 50B Tuesday night. The seat was previously held by a Democrat, Rep. Ann Lenczewski, who retired last year to take a new job as a lobbyist.

It was a surprising result in a suburban district that’s been long held by Democrats, and it brings the Republican House up to 73 total members. It’s also a setback for Democrats in their quest to take back the House, which they lost in the 2014 election and where they now hold 61 votes.

The race garnered plenty of last-minute attention — and spending — from both DFL and GOP groups, including a $5,000 cable TV ad buy from the House Republican Campaign Committee, whose spot accused Carlson of raising property taxes, voting in favor of higher energy costs and imposing regulations on garbage collection as a Bloomington City Council member.

“Congratulations to Rep-elect Chad Anderson on his victory tonight in a DFL stronghold,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said in a statement. “Tonight’s special election results show Republicans will not only be competitive in the metro, but we will win!”

Anderson, who lives in Bloomington with his wife and four children, runs his own real estate company and is a relative newcomer to politics. According to campaign finance reports, he raised more than $10,000 and spent about $4,000 on his campaign. Carlson, on the other hand, raised nearly $40,000 and spent nearly $21,000 on the race. 

“Even though the campaign was short, I spent hundreds of hours going door to door, on the phone and in talking with folks, and learned a lot,” Anderson said in a statement. “Their message was clear. Work hard and stand up for the taxpayers.”

Democrats were surprised by the upset in the Bloomington district, where Lenczewski won by 65 percent of the vote in 2014. She was first elected to represent the district in 1998, replacing Independent Republican Rep. Kevin Knight.

DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said low turnout and negative campaigning led to the result. Anderson beat Carlson by 130 votes out of more than 5,000 votes cast. Thissen also expressed confidence that Democrats can win the seat back in seven months, when more voters will turn out for the general election.

Rep.-Elect Chad Anderson deserves credit for his narrow victory and I look forward to serving with him this session,” said Thissen. “But this should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats that we cannot take any district in any part of the state for granted, even in a presidential election year,” Thissen said. “While I believe we will win this seat back in the fall, it is going to require all of us working together, and that work starts tomorrow.”

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said the election was a “powerful reminder that even in the middle of winter with low voter turnout, anything can happen in special elections.” 

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/10/2016 - 09:27 am.

    District 50B

    Democrats were surprised by the upset in the Bloomington district, where Lenczewski won by 65 percent of the vote in 2014.

    I think it would be interesting if this were true. If it is, it reflects an extremely serious problem in leadership I am a Democratic activists, and something I know is that it is extremely difficult for Democrats to win by elections. If state party leadership doesn’t know that, we have a problem.

  2. Submitted by Jason Walker on 02/10/2016 - 03:11 pm.

    Who votes in special elections anyway? Nobody but retired people, who lean conservative.
    These elections are ridiculous and prove that we have to find a better system to make it easy for people to vote. I am sure the average Bloomington resident had little clue there was an election yesterday, prompting the low turnout. You’re not going to steal away from work or college, or haul off your three kids to the corner Lutheran so you can vote in a special state house election.
    Why can’t these things be done online? Get everybody voting. Good grief.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 02/10/2016 - 05:21 pm.

    Maybe just maybe the voters of 50B thought Anderson represented them better than the DFL would?? I love when the DFL loses an election in Minnesota, it is either dumb voters, low turn out or some other bogus excuse.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 02/11/2016 - 09:59 am.

      Not a chance

      Special elections are the only way republicans will win in the metro. Hope this guy enjoys his 9 months in office.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/11/2016 - 08:28 am.

    Who votes in special elections anyway? Nobody but retired people, who lean conservative.

    It is hard to get DFL vote out for special elections. Anne, as I recall, got 65% of the vote last time out, and President Obama carried the district with 56% of the vote so I would expect the DFL to do well. Still, I am disturbed by the suggestion in the article, in effect, that the DFL took this election for granted. That tells me that the current DFL leadership is out of touch with the most basic dynamics of grass roots legislative politics. This is of special concern this year when only legislative races, and all legislative races will be on ballot except for the presidential election.

    “I love when the DFL loses an election in Minnesota, it is either dumb voters, low turn out or some other bogus excuse.”

    I should note that Republican activists know the same thing Democratic activists like me know, which is that low turnout favors Republicans and high turnout favors Democrats. That’s why Republicans search for ways to make voting more difficult, and to be fair, we search for ways to make voting less difficult.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 02/11/2016 - 10:47 am.

      Really?

      And where do you get the data that indicates low turnout favors the GOP and high turnout favors Dems? If you look at when Jesse was elected, there was very high turnout that favored neither.

      Could this special election be what it really is? That people are tired of taxes. Anne was a leader with our taxes. The feedback from the constituents said they are tired of that. Carlson out fund-raised and outspent Anderson but still lost.

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