The “Blue Wave” that Democrats hoped would sweep through all levels of government wasn’t quite as large as they hoped – while the party in blue did retake the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, Republicans widened their lead in the Senate, and quelled a few especially key races – like that in Texas between incumbent Ted Cruz and popular challenger Beto O’Rourke, or establishment challenges at the governor position from Andrew Gillum, who lost to mini-Trump Ron DeSantis, and Stacey Abrams, who would have been the first black woman governor not only in Georgia, but the entire United States.
Minnesota Democrats win big
But in Minnesota, Democrats have a lot more to celebrate. Not only was Ilhan Omar, as the nation’s first Somali-American, and first refugee, elected to Congress, but Democrat Tim Walz will be leading the state as Governor for the next four years after defeating Jeff Johnson by a sizable margin. Keith Ellison, battling allegations of domestic abuse as well as Republican Doug Wardlow, will become our newest Attorney General.
Notably, with the Democratic victory, Walz’s running mate Peggy Flanagan (and future Lieutenant Governor) will become the highest-ranking Native American woman in the country to hold public office.
The Dynamic Democratic Duo: Amy Klobuchar, one the “rising stars” of the party, also defeated challenger Jim Newberger handily to win a third term in the senate, and Tina Smith, appointed by Mark Dayton after Al Franken stepped down, won her race without much trouble against Karin Housley as well.
While this doesn’t come as a complete shock – Minnesota has long been a blue-leaning state, and Mark Dayton leaves a fairly robust economy and generally high levels of statewide satisfaction for Tim Walz to inherit –
(And the Twin Cities are known as one of the most liberal metro areas in the country – Read more on that: Minnesota vs. Donald Trump: Our shaky relationship with POTUS)
– there was some speculation, as the presidential race in 2016 was fairly close (Hillary Clinton took the state by a much, much narrower margin than previous Democrats), that Minnesota might be a bit more purple than previously thought, and that it might even swing red in these oh-so-crucial midterms.
Minnesota Democrats managed to flip the House, also a major victory, but Republicans managed to keep hold of the Senate by a single vote.
(For a more in-depth look at that, read our previous coverage here: Could Minnesota swing red in the next election?)
In store for the state
Tim Walz is big on bipartisanship – something he pushed for while in Congress as well – thanking his opponent for being decent throughout the campaign and promising to work across the aisle. He has a plan to raise the the gas tax in Minnesota to help pay for much-needed transportation projects, and also seems focused on bridging the urban and rural divide in the state. He has pledged support to the legalization of recreational marijuana as well.
Ellison focused much of his campaign on healthcare, pledging to uphold the provisions of Obamacare (preexisting conditions a priority), as well as hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, fight for workers’ rights, and ensure that women have expanded access to safe choices.
Minnesota, interestingly, is now the only state in the country to have a divided legislature (blue House, red Senate as we mentioned above), something that hasn’t happened since 1914 – which means that Walz’s bipartisan skills will be put to the test straight off the bat.
While the rest of the country didn’t entirely rebuke the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump in state-and-national-level races (though Kansas had a surprising night as well), it was, overall, a pretty good night for Democrats in Minnesota.
For now, we can breathe a sigh of relief that another contentious election cycle has come to a close (at least until the next one in 2020, when Trump runs for reelection), and say au revoir to the texts, calls, emails, flyers, media posts reminding us to vote, begging us to vote for their candidate.