On August 14th, Minnesota conducted Primary Elections and the races for Governor, U.S. Senate and control of the Minnesota Legislature are now set for the November General election.
In the DFL Primary for Governor, Congressman Tim Walz and State Representative Peggy Flanagan defeated the DFL endorsed team of Former House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and State Representative Erin Maye-Quade and current Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and her running mate Congressman Rick Nolan. The Walz/Flanagan ticket demonstrated strong support around the state and capitalized on the late collapse of the Swanson/Nolan ticket which faced several negative media reports in the days leading up to the primary.
On the GOP side, underfunded Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson easily sailed to victory over the well-financed former Governor Tim Pawlenty. Polling prior to the primary predicted a double-digit win for the former Governor. In the end, GOP voters punished Pawlenty for his decision to forego the GOP endorsement and skip the GOP Convention in May. This will be Johnson’s third statewide race having run as the GOP Gubernatorial candidate in 2014 where he lost to current Governor Mark Dayton. Johnson was also the Republican candidate for Attorney General in 2006 where he lost to current Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Polling conducted immediately after the August Primary indicates neither candidate is currently positioned to run away with a victory in the race for Governor. The Primary also delivered the first loss to a sitting member of the Minnesota Legislature when Republican State Representative Bob Loonan of Shakopee was defeated by his GOP endorsed challenger.
Last week, the St. Cloud City Council voted to delay moving ahead on two local ballot questions which would have the potential to raise local hospitality taxes and increase the local option sales tax on food and beverages. The Council agreed with Mayor Dave Kleis’s suggestion the city should first seek legislative approval for the increase before putting the question before local voters. The city was successful in getting the legislature to approve a more limited increase during the 2018 Legislative Session. The language was included in the Omnibus Tax Bill which passed both bodies and was sent to the Governor. However, Governor Dayton who had reservations about many provision in the tax bill, vetoed the entire bill and was unable to reach a compromise on a new tax bill prior to the completion of the 2018 Session.