Balance of power likely to shift in Minn. Legislature - KMSP-TV

Balance of power likely to shift in Minn. Legislature

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While the presidential candidates spar over which party will control the White House, Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota are battling for control of the Legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans.

Gov. Mark Dayton is not up for election this year, but the redistricting following the 2010 Census means both parties stand a chance of gaining a majority in the House or Senate.

In 2010, voters sent Republicans into both chambers en masse, which was a similar trend seen around the country; however, the change of power came with a few controversies. The contentious government shutdown brought out biting criticism from both sides of the aisle, and sessions were marked by highly controversial bills, such as the Vikings stadium bill and the addition of two constitutional amendments to the ballot.

Furthermore, a series of lawmaker sex scandals have plagued both Republicans and Democrats in the past two years. Duluth Rep. Kerry Gauthier dropped his re-election bid after news of a sexual encounter with a teen surfaced amid his campaign. Sen. Amy Koch resigned her position as majority leader earlier after an affair with staffer Michael Brodkorb was revealed. She is not seeking re-election, and Brodkorb is still embroiled in a legal battle with the Senate over his firing.

THE SENATE

Going into the election, Republicans control 37 of the 67 seats in the Minnesota Senate, but MinnPost identified 12 close races that could change the composition inside the Senate chamber in 2013.

Democrats could be poised to take seven seats currently held by the following Republican incumbents:

  • John Pederson, Senate District 14
  • Joe Gimse, Senate District 17 (defeated)
  • Carla Nelson, Senate District 26
  • Jeremy Miller, Senate District 28
  • Benjamin Kruse, Senate District 36 (defeated)
  • Pam Wolf, Senate District 37 (defeated
  • Ted Lillie, Senate District 53

It would only take a flip of four seats to switch the control in the Senate.

By Tuesday night, three seats had already transferred from red to blue. Democratic Sen. Lyle Koenen defeated Republican Sen. Joe Gimse in Senate District 14; John Hoffman had ousted Republican Sen. Benjamin Kruse from his seat in District 36, and Alice Johnson beat out Sen. Pam Wolf in Blaine.

Partial reports indicated that Ted Lillie may lose his seat in District 53 to Susan Kent, giving Democrats the four seats they would need to take over control.

THE HOUSE

Republicans also holds 72 seats in the Minnesota House, compared to 61 that the Democrats occupy. This year, there are sixteen seats in the following districts that MinnPost lists as in play:

  • District 1B
  • District 2A
  • District 5A
  • District 5B
  • District 11B
  • District 14B
  • District 17B
  • District 24B
  • District 27A
  • District 39B
  • District 44B
  • District 48A
  • District 49B
  • District 51A
  • District 51B
  • District 54A

Of those seats, 11 are held by Republicans -- but only one of those is in a district that has leaned conservative in the past.

Results in the above races were still being tabulated well into the early-morning hours. By 1:20 a.m., partial results showed Democratic candidates were leading in 12 of those races. If all of those leads hold, they will pick up at least six seats from Republicans and the balance of power will shift to Democrats.

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