The Republicans entered the Minnesota Legislature’s 2021 session with a narrow 34-33 majority. Jeremy Miller, the Majority Leader, saw this lead grow when two DFL senators who had been long-time DFL senators declared their independence and decided to vote and caucus alongside the GOP. Those two senators, Sen. Tom Bakk from Cook and Sen. David Tomassoni, of Chisholm are not on the ballot – Bakk retired while Tomassoni died of the neurological disease ALS.
Along with questions about DFL support in Minnesota, court-determined redistricting is changing the political map. Although modeling is based on past elections is used to predict which races will be closest, an actual election is the best way to know how new districts will pan out.
Two GOP-held seats, however, are not in the party’s reach. The one currently held by Sen. David Senjem from Rochester and the other by Sen. David Osmek, Mound. Both are not running for reelection. DFL hopes of holding Senate District 4 (northwestern Minnesota) are slim following Kent Eken’s retirement.
While 34 seats is the magic number, only a few Minnesota Senate districts are actually in play. Bakk’s district in Minnesota is the race to watch in 2022, while Tomassoni is expected to win the GOP’s seat. Another is in St. Cloud and three other in the Twin Cities suburbs.
The GOP has grown its grip in Greater Minnesota over the past several elections while the DFL has gained strength in the suburbs surrounding the Twin Cities. Both parties have seen certain wins move into the tossup and then become strongholds for their respective parties.
MinnPost’s Races to Watch was created through interviews with political observers as well as looking at past elections data. The most difficult part of the analysis involves dealing with the fact each district’s boundaries changed due to redistricting. To show how the old lines played out in past elections, we used Dave’s Redistricting Atlas.
The presidential results include the Joe Biden-Donald Trump vote and the Hillary Clinton-Trump votes from 2016 and 2020 to the new districts. The 2016-20 composite result includes the 2016 presidential results, the 2018 special U.S. Senate election between Tina Smith & Karin Housley, the 2018 governor race among Tim Walz & Jeff Johnson, the 2018 attorney general race entre Keith Ellison et Doug Wardlow, and the 2020 presidential race and 2020 U.S. Senate elections between Smith & Jason Lewis.