It was a wild year in Minnesota politics. We lost a U.S. senator in Al Franken, who resigned under the duress of sexual harassment allegations, as did two state lawmakers. The Legislature sued Gov. Mark Dayton after he vetoed its budget. And as 2017 wraps up, a Republican who opposes abortion is on track to be Dayton's lieutenant governor.
Next year promises to be equally unpredictable.
New Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach is vowing to stay in the Senate, making a lawsuit seeking to remove her likely. That could result in a 33-33 tie in the Senate between the GOP and DFL, if the latter can hold the seat vacated by former Sen. Dan Schoen. Control of the Senate could hinge on a special election to replace Fischbach.
Beyond that, Minnesota voters face two U.S. Senate races, a wide open governor's race and at least four competitive U.S. House races.
We asked both newsmakers and readers for some 2018 predictions.
Showing off his sharp Minnesota humor, Dayton gave a brief response: "The Good Lord willing, I will be governor of Minnesota until January 7th, 2019."
Dayton, whose collapse during his State of the State speech last February precipitated public admission of a cancer diagnosis, was making light of a nightmare scenario for many DFLers if he's unable to serve: Republicans take full control of state government, call a special session, and Wisconsinize the state with glee.
(Dayton has since been given a cancer-free bill of health, he has said.)
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka predicted Republicans would expand their majority by winning the special election to replace Schoen.
Rep. Erin Murphy said Minnesota would elect its first nurse as governor. (She's the only nurse running.)
Dale Trippler of North Oaks predicted that "Drilling in the Alaskan wilderness is in full bore, but no oil is found," which would be an ironic end to a decadeslong fight between oil companies and environmentalists.
Todd Rapp, former DFL operative, predicts the year of the woman, especially on the DFL side: More than half of DFL challengers for the Legislature will be women, he said. After the primary, he thinks, the DFL will have three women at the top of the ticket (Senate, Senate, governor).
Sen. Amy Klobuchar avoided politics in her prediction: "The Vikings will be playing in the Super Bowl and 40 years later we will finally know the answer to my dad's 1977 book, 'Will the Vikings Ever Win the Super Bowl?' "
Stranger things have happened.