Updated Sep 1, 2021 - Politics

Rematches heat up for Minnesota Legislature

The exterior of the Minnesota State Capitol building.

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The 2022 midterms are over a year away, but potential rematches are already heating up for some competitive state legislative races.

Driving the news: Democrat Aleta Borrud announced her second run for Senate District 26 over the weekend. She lost to incumbent Republican Sen. Carla Nelson by about 900 votes in 2020.

Why it matters: With narrow majorities in each chamber, the outcomes of a handful of races next year will determine party control of the Legislature.

  • Second- or third-time candidates bring name recognition, existing volunteers and campaign infrastructure to the table. But they also may carry baggage from past campaigns, as some have lost before.

Context: Republicans have a one-seat majority in the state Senate, though the decision by two former Democrats to caucus with them as independent effectively grows it to three. Meanwhile, the DFL holds a six-seat edge in the House.

State of play: Borrud isn't the only losing candidate to ready another run.

  • Democrat Sara Flick, who lost narrowly to GOP Sen. David Senjem in 2020, told Torey she’s announcing her second bid for the Rochester-area seat next week.
  • Republican Andrew Myers is already campaigning for a Lake Minnetonka-area House seat after losing to Democratic Rep. Kelly Morrison by 313 votes.
  • Rob Farnsworth, the GOP nominee who lost to DFL Rep. Julie Sandstede by 30 votes, is running for that Iron Range district again, too.
  • Former DFL House Reps. Brad Tabke of Shakopee and Jeff Brand of Saint Peter have both announced runs for the seats they lost last year.
  • And Democrat Bonnie Westlin launched a third run against longtime GOP Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove the day she conceded last November.

What we're hearing: Former DFL Rep. John Persell (District 5A), Democrat Randy Brock (26B) and Republican Elliott Engen (38B) might join the list of 2020 candidates running again next year.

  • Former DFL state Sen. Matt Little of Lakeville hasn't made any decisions about a rematch against Republican Zach Duckworth. He declined to comment further, saying it didn't feel right to discuss a possible race given Duckworth's current deployment to the Middle East.

The catch: It's a redistricting cycle, meaning the legislative and congressional maps need to be redrawn to account for changes in the population. That could affect both competitiveness and eligibility, if candidates or incumbents end up living outside district lines.

What to watch: The new maps are expected to lead to more open races, as incumbents retire or step aside to run for another office.

  • State Sens. Chris Eaton and Jerry Newton, both Democrats, have already announced that they won't seek another term.

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