Updated Jun 7, 2024 - News

Morrison resigns, setting up high-stakes Minnesota Senate special election

kelly morrison

Sen. Kelly Morrison. Photo: Minnesota Legislature

DFL state Sen. Kelly Morrison announced Thursday that she's resigning from the Minnesota Senate to focus on her campaign for Congress.

The big picture: The vacancy will trigger a special election that puts Democrats' one-seat Senate majority in play this November.

  • All 134 seats in the DFL-led House are already on the general election ballot.

Catch up quick: Morrison is the frontrunner for the west metro congressional district left open after U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips' failed presidential bid.

  • While the Deephaven Democrat doesn't have to resign to run for Congress, stepping down ahead of a Saturday deadline will allow her seat to be filled during the higher-turnout November vote.
  • Otherwise, her win could have triggered a one-off special election later this winter.

What she's saying: In a post shared on social media, Morrison said the timing "will save taxpayers the cost of a special election and allow voters to more easily participate in choosing a new senator."

State of play: The west metro, once home to some of the state's most competitive swing districts, has trended Democratic in recent years.

  • Morrison won her district by about 12 percentage points in 2022.

Yes, but: Anything can happen in a special election.

  • And the prospect of flipping the chamber will likely attract lots of spending from outside groups.

What to expect: Former DFL Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart, who lost her own west metro seat in redistricting, already announced her campaign for the district.

  • Kathleen Fowke, the 2022 Republican nominee against Morrison, is seen as a possible GOP contender.

What else we're watching: Sen. Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury), is still facing pressure from some colleagues to give up her seat by Saturday over her ongoing felony burglary case.

  • "It's entirely one thing to lose your majority in an election. It's another thing to lose your majority by self-sabotage," DFL Sen. Heather Gustafson told reporters this week.
  • Gustafson pointed out that a later resignation by Mitchell could leave the Senate deadlocked 33-33 for part of next year's session.

The other side: The caucus is divided. Four other DFL senators issued a statement this week defending Mitchell's right to stay.

  • Mitchell, who denies she was stealing from her late father's home at the time of her arrest, has so far rejected calls to resign.
  • Her attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with news of Ann Johnson Stewart's Senate announcement.

Trail Mix is Axios Twin Cities reporter Torey Van Oot's occasional column on all things Minnesota politics. Send her your tips and political takes: [email protected]

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