With the conclusion of the August primaries, focus now turns to the November general election and the election of a new Governor. All other constitutional officers are up for election as well as all 134 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives. While the State Senate is not up, there is a special election to replace former Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), who stepped down to serve as Lieutenant Governor under Governor Mark Dayton and run as Tim Pawlenty’s running mate in the Republican primary, in which they did not prevail. Elections in Minnesota have been everything but sleepy and this year is no different.
The August 14 primary set the stage for GOP candidate and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson to face Democratic candidate Congressman Tim Walz in the general election. The campaign for governor will be the most watched statewide election this fall. A Republican win could result in one party control of the House, Senate and Governor’s office, which would be the first legislative trifecta for the Republican Party in Minnesota history. On the other hand, some see a path to full DFL control should a Democrat win the governor’s race, the Senate special election and the House Democrats win the majority of seats.
Currently, House Republicans have a 76-56 majority over their DFL counterparts. There are five retiring Republican members while the Democrats have nine members retiring. For House Democrats to retake the majority, they will need to retain the nine vacated seats and win elections in twelve seats currently held by Republicans.
In the Senate, Republicans had a 34-33 majority over their Democrat counterparts, but following the succession of Fischbach to lieutenant governor the chamber is split 33-33 and therefore doesn’t have a majority party. While considered a republican stronghold, the special election for Fishbach’s seat is being watched closely for any November surprises. Should a Democrat win the special election, it will tip control of the State Senate.
Looking to the 2019 session, the legislature and the governor must pass a new two-year state budget. Because of the veto of the tax and supplemental budget bills from the 2018 session, a number of issues are likely to resurface – federal tax conformity, funding for school safety, early learning, and special education to name a few. As with every budget year, the per-pupil formula will continue to be a major focus. And while we have to wait for the official budget forecast in December, recent economic updates indicate the state budget is moving along in a positive direction with $342 million more than previously projected.
While you focus on the start of the school year, this fall also provides you with a good opportunity to connect with elected officials and new candidates running for office. They seek every opportunity to talk to voters and love to hear from you (particularly during an election year) – it’s an opportunity to educate candidates about your issues as they relate to your school district and the students you serve.