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The 26 Minnesota legislative races to watch in 2020

MinnPost looked at the fundamentals of the districts along with data from the parties, interest groups and political caucuses to arrive at a batch of races that could determine control of the House and Senate.

There are 134 seats in the Minnesota House and 67 seats in the Minnesota Senate up for election in 2020.
There are 134 seats in the Minnesota House and 67 seats in the Minnesota Senate up for election in 2020.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

With all 201 seats in the Minnesota House and Senate on the ballot this year — and with upcoming redistricting making control of the Legislature even more important — the campaign to control the state Legislature should be dominating the 2020 election.

It’s not, however, and for one reason: Donald Trump.

As much as the parties would like the election to be about local candidates and local issues, many are drafting in the wake of the presidential election. When asked at the kickoff of the House DFL campaign how “Trumpy” she thought the races would be, House Speaker Melissa Hortman replied: “We are hoping 2020 is just as Trumpy an election as 2018 was for our team.”

The reference was to the election that allowed Hortman’s DFL to sweep the suburbs and reverse a large GOP majority, handing her control of the House by winning 75 of the chamber's 134 seats. This year, Hortman’s job is to defend what the DFL calls their majority makers: those first-year lawmakers who won in 2018, many in close elections. Most of the battlegrounds are in DFL-held seats.

Polling does not indicate that the president is any more popular in the suburbs this year, especially among women, but Republicans are hoping that voters will distinguish between Trump and local candidates. The GOP now holds a 35-32 advantage in the state Senate, and their strength is in districts outside the Twin Cities that they swept in the 2016 election, illustrated by the fact that five seats that shifted to the GOP in that election aren't even considered contested this year: the 1st, 2nd, 17th, 21st and 24th. A sixth, the 20th, is only marginally competitive this year.

The GOP hopes to continue that regional transformation by targeting the few remaining DFL seats in northern Minnesota. In turn, the DFL will look at GOP seats in the suburbs and larger cities in Greater Minnesota, such as Rochester and St. Cloud, that are either shifting or have recently been swing districts.

The DFL is guaranteed a seat at the redistricting table with Gov. Tim Walz. And the GOP chances of retaking the House are small, given the tenor of the suburbs and the size of the DFL majority. For the GOP to be able to block a DFL-only redistricting plan in the coming years, it needs to hold the Senate. That makes the Senate races where the action, and the money, will be.

To make some sense of all this, MinnPost looked at the fundamentals of the districts along with data from the parties, interest groups and political caucuses to arrive at a batch of races that could determine control of the House and Senate and offer insight into the 2020 election.

In the end, we broke the list into the following four categories:

Minnesota Senate

Republicans currently have a 35-32 majority in the state Senate, meaning Democrats need a net gain of two seats to take control of the chamber.

The 5 Senate races where the GOP thinks it can pick up seats:

Senate District 4

  • Kent Eken DFL — Incumbent
  • Mark Larson R

In 2016, DFL state Sen. Kent Eken of Twin Valley won his re-election race by 4,038 votes, but Trump won voters in the district by 3,101, making Eken a top target for Republicans this November. The district is split between the largely urban Moorhead, which favors DFLers, and more rural and conservative areas that include Detroit Lakes. Eken’s opponent is Mark Larson, a low-profile entrepreneur living in Hawley who wants to see reduced taxes and increased government focus on combatting sex-trafficking and bullying. Eken has been one of the more conservative DFLers at the Legislature, voting against continuing Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and opposing Democratic proposals like the governor’s plan for carbon-free energy by 2050. So far, Republicans haven’t plunged huge resources into the race, however. Eken hasn’t faced an influx of advertisements such as those accusing other DFL candidates of wanting to defund police departments.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 8 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Kent Eken (DFL) won by 10 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 3 points.

Senate District 27

  • Dan Sparks DFL — Incumbent
  • Gene Dornink R
  • Tyler Becvar LMN

DFL Sen. Dan Sparks of Austin has been in office since 2002, but Republicans hope this is the year the GOP can flip the district red. Trump easily won the district by more than 5,000 votes in 2016, but Democrats like Tim Walz and Tina Smith both carried it in 2018, even if by slim margins. Challenging Sparks is Gene Dornink, who ran in 2016 but lost to the incumbent by 3,596 votes. Dornink is a carpenter who owns his own business and was a member of a local carpenter’s union in Rochester for 22 years. Sparks is one of many incumbents this year hoping their local brand will carry them through in a region that tends to favor a presidential candidate from the other party. Also in the race is Tyler Becvar, a Legal Marijuana Now candidate with GOP connections who reportedly posted a video in support of Dornink on his Facebook page along with pro-Trump messages. Despite that, LMN endorsed Becvar.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 14 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Dan Sparks (DFL) won by 10 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 4 points.

Senate District 53

  • Susan Kent DFL — Incumbent
  • Mary Giuliani Stephens R

Based on the numbers, this wouldn’t be a race to watch. It’s the kind of suburban district that is trending DFL. Clinton carried this east metro district by a lot, and DFLers did well here again in 2018. But Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent won narrowly in 2016, in what was admittedly a bad year for DFLers. And Mary Giuliani Stephens is not unfamiliar to many voters in the district, having served as mayor of Woodbury from 2007 to 2018 and made a run for the GOP nomination for governor in 2018. Consider this race a wave barometer: If Kent is in trouble, it will be a good year for the GOP.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 13 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Susan Kent (DFL) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 16 points.

Senate District 54

  • Karla Bigham DFL — Incumbent
  • Leilani Holmstadt R

Two familiar names will face off in this east Metro district. Karla Bigham won a relatively close and very expensive special election in 2018 to replace former Sen. Dan Schoen, who had resigned from the seat. Bigham had been a Washington County commissioner, a member of the state House and a member of the Cottage Grove city council before winning the seat. Leilani Holmstadt, who runs a child care business, had been the GOP nominee against Schoen in 2016 and also lives in Cottage Grove. Trump narrowly won this district in 2016 but it trended toward the DFL in 2018.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 1 point.
  • In a 2018 special election, Karla Bigham(DFL) won by 4 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 9 points.

Senate District 58

  • Matt Little DFL — Incumbent
  • Zach Duckworth R

How did Matt Little win this district in 2016 given that the numbers were all working against him? Not only had Trump won here by double digits, but both of the district’s Minnesota House seats went to GOP candidates in not-very-close elections. But Little, the mayor of Lakeville, out-hustled his rather lackadaisical opponent and won by less than 400 votes out of more than 45,000 cast. This year, the GOP is seeking to recapture what it considers a safe Republican seat — even the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nominee, Jeff Johnson, won it by nearly 7 points. That making Little their No. 1 target for defeat. Zach Duckworth, the chair of the Lakeville school board and real estate agent is the GOP nominee.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 17 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Matt Little (DFL) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Johnson by 7 points.

The 6 Senate races where the DFL thinks it can pick up seats:

Senate District 5

  • Justin Eichorn R — Incumbent
  • Rita Albrecht DFL
  • Dennis Barsness GLC
  • Robyn Smith LMN

Can Democrats claw back a seat that slipped away? Incumbent Republican Sen. Justin Eichorn won his 2016 race in Senate District 5 over long-serving DFLer Tom Saxhaug by just 553 votes and Democrats have since recaptured a lost House seat in the Bemidji-area district. The party also likes its candidate, Rita Albrecht, mayor of Bemidji.

But the race could be a tough pickup for Democrats; the GOP has had sustained success in the district, an area that was once friendly to DFLers and voted for President Obama in 2012. Not only did Trump win there in 2016, but so did GOP Senate candidate Karin Housley and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson in 2018. Politicos in the state often use the 2018 Minnesota auditor race as a baseline measure of party preference, and in that contest, Republican Pam Myhra prevailed by a comfortable margin. Though Albrecht says she supports legalization of cannabis, there are also two candidates from the state’s marijuana parties in the race, which could have a large effect in such a hotly-contested district. One candidate, Robyn Smith, told the Minnesota Reformer she was recruited by a Republican to run a spoiler campaign against Albrecht.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 17 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Justin Eichorn (R) won by 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Johnson by 3 points.

Senate District 14

  • Jerry Relph R — Incumbent
  • Aric Putnam DFL
  • Jaden Partlow LMN

DFLers have long dreamed of a break-through in St. Cloud, where Republican Sen. Jerry Relph and other GOPers have long held office. Relph has been a player at the Capitol, helping to broker large compromise bills like a 2019 deal to offer new protections to seniors in long-term care, and police reform legislation in 2020. Yet Democrats have reasons for hope: DFLer Dan Wolgamott lost to Relph in the 2016 Senate race by an ultra-narrow 141-vote margin, and Wolgamott has since gone on to take a House seat away from Republicans in District 14B.

This year, the DFL candidate in SD14 is Aric Putnam, a St. John’s University professor who lost a 2018 House race in the more conservative District 14A. Putnam says if he can carry forward Wolgamott’s success in 14B and keep the margin close in 14A, that’s a recipe for success, especially as DFLers work to turn out votes among the growing population of residents of East African descent. Jaden Partlow, endorsed by the Legal Marijuana Now party, is also a candidate in the race.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 8 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Jerry Relph (R) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 4 points.

Senate District 26

  • Carla Nelson R — Incumbent
  • Aleta Borrud DFL

Republican Sen. Carla Nelson has represented this Rochester-area district since 2010, after serving in the state House. She’s had no trouble hanging onto the seat, winning in both 2012 and 2016 by more than 10 points. This year, her challenger is Aleta Borrud, a retired doctor. Though Trump narrowly won the district in 2016, it favored Walz in 2018, and it’s one of the Minnesota Senate districts that Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a gun control group's spending arm, announced it was pouring resources into in an effort to help Democrats. Given Nelson’s tenure, if this seat were to flip it would likely indicate a good year for the DFL.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by less than 1 point.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Carla Nelson (R) won by 12 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 10 points.

Related coverage: In Mayo’s hometown, DFLers look to put science, and Trump’s response to COVID-19, on the ballot

Senate District 34

  • Warren Limmer R — Incumbent
  • Bonnie Westlin DFL

Can Democrats expand their reach further into the suburbs with districts like this Maple Grove-area one? Warren Limmer, who works in real estate sales and investment, was first elected to the Senate in 1995 after serving in the House. This year, the race for his seat is a rematch between him and DFL challenger Bonnie Westlin, a lawyer with a family-law practice. Up until 2018, this district and the two House districts that comprise it were all represented by Republicans. But that year, Kristin Bahner defeated a Republican incumbent in 34B, the side of the district closer to the cities. If District 34 voters swing further toward Democrats this year, the seat could potentially be within reach. A Trump +3 district in 2016, SD34 voters picked Tim Walz by a small 0.9 point margin in 2018.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 3 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Warren Limmer (R) won by 21 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 1 point.

Related coverage: Why national groups are giving so much attention to a state Senate race in the Twin Cities suburbs

Senate District 44

  • Greg Pulles R
  • Ann Johnson Stewart DFL

This district centered on the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth is the mirror image of Senate District 58: a seat won by a party that seemingly had no business winning it. In this case, it was Republican Paul Anderson winning a district that Clinton ran away with (and where the DFL had won with a 12 point spread in 2012) giving the GOP a one-seat Senate majority. Anderson had been expected to run again before dropping out in February. Former bank general counsel Greg Pulles is the GOP nominee against DFLer Ann Johnson Stewart, a civil engineer with her own firm. With the district trending Democrat — Walz and both DFL state House candidates won here in 2018 — this is the DFL’s top target to pick up a Republican seat.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 18 points.
  • In 2016, Paul Anderson (R) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 18 points.

Senate District 56

  • Dan Hall R — Incumbent
  • Lindsey Port DFL

If District 44 is the DFL’s top target, the 56th is a close second. While not nearly as Democratic by the numbers as the 44th, it is still a Clinton/Walz district that in 2018 delivered both state House seats to the DFL. Dan Hall, an attorney and chaplain, won this Burnsville/Savage-area seat by more than 10 percentage points in 2016 and has held the seat since 2010. DFL nominee Lindsey Port is also familiar to voters, though, having run for and lost the 56B House race in 2016.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 4 points.
  • In 2016 Incumbent Dan Hall (R) won by 10 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 9 points.

Minnesota House

The DFL currently holds a 75-59 majority in the state House. Republicans need a net gain of 9 seats to take control of the chamber.

The 11 House races where the GOP thinks it can pick up seats

House District 3A

  • Rob Ecklund DFL — Incumbent
  • Thomas Manninen R

How big has the political shift been in northeast Minnesota from the DFL to Republicans? If the GOP can win this race, it would show the GOP has closed the gap on the DFL's once dominant position in the region. Standing in the way of that possibility is Rob Ecklund, an International Falls DFLer in his third term representing the district, which includes an enormous stretch of the Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota. Ecklund has comfortably won his last two elections, and Democrats have tallied more votes than Republicans here in nearly every race in 3A since 2016. The one exception is Trump, who beat Clinton in 3A by 1,459 votes in 2016. Ecklund’s opponent is Thomas Manninen, a Littlefork Republican who graduated from Minnesota State University, Moorhead in 2018 after founding the MSUM College Republicans.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 7 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Rob Ecklund (DFL) won by 19 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 8 points.

House District 4B

  • Paul Marquart DFL — Incumbent
  • Brian Anderson R

Marquart, whose district includes Detroit Lakes and a swath of rural areas outside of Moorhead, has been a top target of the GOP since Trump took 56 percent of the vote in the district in 2016. But even though Republicans picked up more votes than Democrats here during 2018 races for governor, one U.S. Senate seat, and auditor (a race that some use as a measure of baseline party support), 4B is home to plenty of ticket-splitters. Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson wins big here, as does Marquart. Marquart, of Dilworth, has been a hard lawmaker to unseat, and he holds a powerful role in St. Paul as chairman of the House Taxes Committee. The GOP hope this year is Brian Anderson, a Detroit Lakes resident who works as a fiber optic technician at a telecom company Arvig.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 22 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Paul Marquart (DFL) won by 18 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Johnson by 9 points.

House District 5A

  • John Persell DFL — Incumbent
  • Matt Bliss R

It’s a rematch of a rematch, and it figures to be another close race. DFL Rep. John Persell of Bemidji is once again facing off against Matt Bliss, a Republican who won the seat away from Persell in 2016 when Trump led the ticket, only to lose it to Persell in 2018 by 11 votes. With Trump again on the ballot, the GOP hopes Bliss can take the seat again. Bliss and his wife Emily own a resort in the area. Persell was an environmental policy analyst for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe before retiring in March of 2019.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 12 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent John Persell (DFL) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by less than 1 point.

House District 19A

  • Jeff Brand DFL — Incumbent
  • Susan Akland R

Republicans are hopeful the party can flip the district, which includes North Mankato and St. Peter, despite a history of DFL success. Democrat Clark Johnson held the seat for two terms before fellow DFLer Jeff Brand of St. Peter won it in 2018. Republican Kim Spears lost three consecutive races to the Democrats. Still, Trump won House District 19A by four points in 2016, giving the GOP hope supporters of the president will fuel new Republican candidate Susan Akland to victory. Akland spent 40 years as a nurse and is now retired. Brand, formerly a member of the St. Peter city council, runs a business installing pollinator gardens with his wife.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 4 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Jeff Brand (DFL) won by 9 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 19 points.

House District 33B

  • Kelly Morrison DFL — Incumbent
  • Andrew Myers R

No House district illustrates the DFL sweep in 2018 more than this western suburban district. In 2016, Republican Cindy Pugh won the seat with a 60-40 landslide. In 2018, Kelly Morrison carried it for the DFL by less than a percentage point. While Hillary Clinton carried it in 2016 and Walz in 2018, both were by narrow margins. A better indicator of the district’s party preference might be the state auditor race in 2018, in which Republican Pam Myhra beat DFLer Julie Blaha here by 12 points. Morrison is a physician who lives in Deephaven and is a member of the bipartisan “Doctor Caucus” in the Legislature. Andrew Myers, an attorney and Minnetonka Beach council member, pushed aside a GOP primary against a more-conservative candidate to win the nomination.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Kelly Morrison(DFL) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by less than 1 point.

House District 38B

  • Ami Wazlawik DFL — Incumbent
  • Elliot Engen R

This third-ring suburban Minnesota House district is emblematic of areas where the DFL has made recent gains. DFLer Ami Wazlawik, a child care assistant, won the White Bear Lake-area house seat, previously represented by Republican Matt Dean, by 1.7 percentage points in 2018. That year, the district also chose Tim Walz over Jeff Johnson by a nearly 5 point margin. In 2020, Wazlawik faces a challenge by Elliot Engen, who works in manufacturing and the legal field.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 1 point.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Ami Wazlawik (DFL) won by 2 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 5 points.

Related coverage: Anatomy of campaign hit literature: How a vote engineered in June gets weaponized in October

House District 39B

  • Shelly Christensen DFL — Incumbent
  • Joseph Garofalo R

The St. Croix Valley-area District 39B flipped from four-term Republican incumbent Kathy Lohmer to DFLer Shelly Christensen, narrowly, in 2018. This year, Christensen faces Joseph Garofalo, a realtor who lives in Grant and who is the cousin of Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington. Trump carried this district in 2016, though by less than one point, while Walz won it in 2018 by 5.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Shelly Christensen (DFL) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 5 points.

House District 54A

  • Anne Claflin DFL — Incumbent
  • Keith Franke R

Want to find a quintessential swing district? This suburban House seat — representing St. Paul Park, South St. Paul and Cottage Grove — was held by Keith Franke, a Republican, after he won a fairly close 2016 election. Franke then lost it in 2018 to DFLer Anne Claflin in an even closer race. Now Franke is back for a rematch to reclaim the district from one of the DFL majority-makers. The DFL dominated it in statewide races in 2018, and Walz ran well ahead of Claflin in the district. The South St. Paul native works in environmental policy for the state Pollution Control Agency. Franke, another South St. Paul native, owns a restaurant and bar and is a former mayor of St. Paul Park.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 3 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Anne Claflin (DFL) won by 2 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Tim Walz by 15 points.

House District 55A

  • Brad Tabke DFL — Incumbent
  • Erik Mortensen R
  • Ryan Martin LMN

This Shakopee district has everything in 2020: a rematch of a testy 2018 race that features a GOP nominee who also reprised his primary victory from the last election; a seat that the GOP has usually held but lost in a shocker in 2018; and a marijuana legalization candidate — Legal Marijuana Now nominee Ryan Martin — with a lot of connections to the GOP and no previously stated support for legalizing marijuana. Incumbent Brad Tabke is a former Shakopee mayor who defeated GOP nominee Erik Mortensen by more than 3 points in 2018.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 4 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Brad Tabke (DFL) won by 3 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 4 points.

House District 56A

  • Jessica Hanson DFL
  • Pam Myhra R

Covering Savage and part of Burnsville, this is another swingy suburban seat that has trended blue in recent years. It was represented by Republicans Pam Myhra and Drew Christensen before swinging toward DFLer Hunter Cantrell in 2018. Cantrell isn’t running again, and this year it’s a match between DFLer Jessica Hanson, whose campaign website says she's finishing a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership, and Myhra, a certified public accountant who ran for state auditor in 2018. The district voted for Hillary Clinton by a 3-point margin in 2016 and went for Walz by 8 points in 2018.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 3 points.
  • In 2018, Hunter Cantrell (DFL) won by 6 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 8 points.

House District 56B

  • Kaela Berg DFL
  • Roz Peterson R

Roz Peterson was one of several incumbent Republicans ousted from Minnesota House seats in a suburban blue wave in 2018. That year, DFLer Alice Mann won the Lakeville seat by 5 points. Now, Mann is retiring from the House, and Peterson, a commercial realtor and business owner, is seeking to regain her old seat. Her opponent is DFLer Kaela Berg, the former director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition and a labor consultant, according to Sun This Week, a local publication. This district favored Clinton by 5 points and Walz by 10.

  • In 2016, this district went for Clinton by 5 points.
  • In 2018, Alice Mann (DFL) won by 5 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 10 points.

The 4 House races where the DFL thinks it can pick up seats:

House District 5B

  • Spencer Igo R
  • Joe Abeyta DFL

Republican Spencer Igo and DFLer Joe Abeyta are vying to win this open seat in the Grand Rapids area, which is being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Sandy Layman.

Layman won the seat from long-serving DFLer Tom Anzelc in 2016, a year in which Trump won big in House District 5B. Republicans continued to flourish here in 2018, when they picked up more votes in the district in races for auditor, governor, U.S. House and the U.S. Senate election between DFLer Tina Smith and Republican Karin Housley.

Igo, who graduated in May of 2018 from the University of North Dakota, is a member of U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber’s district office. Democrats hope Abeyta, a La Prairie city council member and a union heavy equipment operator, can buck the trend and win the seat back from Republicans. It’s a test case for whether Democrats can still compete in areas that have trended toward the GOP in recent years.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 21 points.
  • In 2018, Sandy Layman (R) won by 4 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Johnson by 7 points.

House District 37B

  • Nolan West R — Incumbent
  • Amir Joseph Malik DFL

This Blaine House seat has been represented by Republicans since its establishment in the last redistricting round, but it’s a good example of the type of place Democrats are looking to flip. Two-term Republican Nolan West is defending his seat in a rematch against attorney Amir Malik. In both his elections, West’s margins of victory have been narrow — less than a point in both 2016 and 2018 — and the district has shown a potential to be swingy: it voted Trump by 4.3 percentage points in 2016 and Walz by 4.5 percentage points in 2018.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 4 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Nolan West (R) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 5 points.

House District 47B

  • Greg Boe R — Incumbent
  • Daniel Kessler DFL

Once a solid Republican stronghold, this Chaska area seat is another third-ring suburban district Democrats are hoping to make gains in. Joe Hoppe, the longtime Republican representative, ran unopposed here multiple times. In 2018, after he retired, Republican Greg Boe, environmental services department manager for Carver County, won by a narrow margin. This year, Boe is up against DFLer Daniel Kessler, a psychologist. Winning a seat this far into the western suburbs would be something of a coup for Democrats, but Republicans have won by narrow margins in recent races.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 3 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Greg Boe (R) won by less than 1 point.
  • In 2018, this district went for Johnson by less than 1 point.

House District 54B

  • Tony Jurgens R — Incumbent
  • Kelsey Waits DFL

DFLers have made some inroads in the Cottage Grove area in recent years — this seat went for Trump by 6 points in 2016, then for Walz by 4 in 2018 — but they haven’t managed to take this House seat. The district was represented by Republican Denny McNamara, followed by Republican Tony Jurgens. Jurgens, an insurance agent, is now seeking a third term in the state House, and is being challenged by DFLer Kelsey Waits, who is chair of the Hastings school board.

  • In 2016, this district went for Trump by 6 points.
  • In 2018 Incumbent Tony Jurgens (R) won by 2 points.
  • In 2018, this district went for Walz by 4 points.