With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota campaigns

In '14, state voter turnout hits nearly 30-year low

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: November 25, 2014 - 3:29 PM

Voter turnout in Minnesota this year fell to 50.5 percent, the lowest in a general election in the state since 1986. 

The five-member State Canvassing Board, chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, met Tuesday to officially certify the results of the Nov. 4 election. 

The board certified that 1,992,566 people cast a ballot in the election. Weighed against Minnesota's estimated eligible voter count of 3,945,136 resulted in a turnout rate of 50.51 percent. 

That's very low compared to presidential election years, when Minnesota's turnout rate typically hovers above 75 percent. Turnout in 2012 was 76.4 percent, and in 2008 it was 78.1 percent. 

But the 2014 turnout even suffered against recent off-year elections, which is when Minnesota elects its governors. In 2010 the turnout was 55.8 percent, and in 2006 it was 60.4 percent. 

Minnesota voting hit a low mark in 1986, when 48.2 percent of eligible voters turned out. That year, DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich was re-elected over Republican challenger Cal Ludeman. 

This year saw the first use of so-called "no excuse" absentee balloting in Minnesota, and Ritchie's office said the number of absentee ballots cast rose 55 percent compared to 2010. However, the 2014 figure was still lower than the total number of absentee ballots cast in 2012. 

By the numbers: Digging into Minnesota House data

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 11, 2014 - 12:06 PM

Digging into the data from the House election last week, we came up with some interesting tidbits.

Read on:

Edina represents

More voters in the tony Hennepin County suburban of Edina voted in the Minnesota House race than voters of any other district. Nearly 20,000 people cast ballots for the two candidates vying for the 47A seat. Democratic Rep. Ron Erhardt, a former Republican member of the House, bested Republican candidate Dario Anselmo garnering 51 percent of the vote.

Hello, St. Paul?

Just four miles from the Minnesota Capitol, voters in St. Paul’s 67A gave the House race a pass. Fewer than 7,500 voters cast ballots in that House race. DFL Rep. Tim Mahoney, who has long represented that St. Paul district, still did well. He got 72 percent of the vote, or 5,400 votes, for a vote total and a vote percentage that bested most of his colleagues.

You’re the tops

Highest percentage of the vote: Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell. He got 97.48 percent in an unopposed race.

Most votes: Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis. He had a Republican opponent but still received 15,026 votes, more than any other House candidate.


In southern Minnesota, 459 voters of House District 23B wrote in candidate names, more write-in votes than any other districts. The high number may not be surprising – Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, was unopposed so voters there had the choice of voting for him or penciling in another option. The write-ins were little blow to Cornish’s vote total. He won 11,339 votes, or 96 percent of the votes in the House race.

Just three

Minnesota-House Speaker Designate Kurt Daudt will start his term in January with only three terms under his belt. He is the first speaker with that little seniority since the 1930, according to figures compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

There and back again

Current House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, was selected by his DFL colleagues last week to lead them in the minority next year. It's a role that's familiar to him. He was the DFL's minority leader from 2011 to 2012 and became speaker in 2013, when the DFL took over the House. The reference library could find just one other case of a leader making that journey -- Aubrey Dirlam did it about 40 years ago. But, the library found, unlike Thissen, there was a time gap between when he served as minority leader then speaker then minority leader again.


In 2008, Democrats won the House. In 2010, Republican took it over. In 2012, Democrats took it back. And in 2014, it flipped to Republicans again. The quick turnaround of party power -- four times in four election cycles -- is the speediest the Star Tribune could find on record.

Photo: Archive photo of House Speaker Paul Thissen speaking to Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in 2014. Next year, Daudt will be speaker and Thissen will be minority leader. Source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune.

Updated to remove a map of speakers' hometowns that was not properly listing all speakers and correct a party designation.

Minnesota Rep. Cornish 'seriously considering' a run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Walz

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 7, 2014 - 6:06 PM


Minnesota Rep. Tony Cornish said he is very interested in running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in 2016.


Cornish, of Vernon Center, will begin his seventh term in the Legislature next year. He was unopposed in his re-election and netted 96 percent of the vote.

Walz, a former teacher and National Guard member, has held the southern First Congressional District since defeating longtime Rep. Gil Gutknecht in 2006. He won re-election on Tuesday with 54 percent of the vote.

Cornish, a straight-talking former lawman, said he is "seriously considering" a run against Walz in two years.

"I am just waiting to see what the donors and Republicans think," Cornish said. "I'm thinking about it still."

But, he said, he won't think about it for long.

"I'm always one that believes in coming out early," he said.

His interest was first disclosed by the Mankato Free Press.

Photo: Rep. Tony Cornish in 2011, chairing the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee/ Source: Dave Brewster, Star Tribune

Minnesota voter turnout -- 50 percent -- falls below historical trend, expectations

Posted by: Ricardo Lopez Updated: November 5, 2014 - 4:46 PM

Just half of the state's nearly 4 million eligible voters cast ballots this midterm election, according to preliminary turnout results released by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

The figure -- 50 percent -- was far below historical voting trends and expectations that as many as 60 percent of Minnesotans would vote Tuesday, either in person or through absentee ballot. 

In past midterm elections, Minnesota's voter turnout rate was 55.81 percent in 2010 and 60.47 percent in 2006.

In a statement, Ritchie said voter turnout would increase slightly as some counties submit final voting statistics.

The unofficial figures show that the state received 197,691 absentee ballots, roughly 10 percent of all ballots cast. 

The state's canvassing board will certify election results Nov. 25. 

Photo: Voters arrive at the Vasa Town Hall in Welch, Minn. early Tuesday to cast their votes. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune)

And, in closing: Here are the final TV ads in key election races

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 3, 2014 - 1:01 PM

Candidates for governor, Senate and Congress have spent millions to get dozens of messages on television.

But, with Election Day nearly here, these are the words they really want you to remember.

Here are their final, closing argument television ads.


Republican Jeff Johnson

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner raised in Detroit Lakes, tailored his final ads to three different parts of the state. In all three ads, Johnson is standing in a sun-dappled, tree stand.

"He's just not up to the job any more," Johnson says of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. "It's time for new leadership in Minnesota."

In two other ads, he claims that he, unlike Dayton, will focus on Greater Minnesota.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton's final ad is called "Rising" and highlights the way his campaign believes the state is better since Dayton took office and will be even better if he wins again.

"Mark Dayton knows we have much more to do, to help struggling families, make college more affordable, and help small businesses grow," the narrator says. "Moving forward together."

U.S. Senate

Republican Mike McFadden

McFadden's final ad shows a contrast -- the country as it is, with the country as it could be.

"Everything is at stake," a narrator reads, as various scenes of Minnesota life flit by. "Our hopes, our dreams, our future....We can make America great again."

Democratic U.S. Al Franken

Franken's final ad, called "Delivered," uses quotations from newspaper editorial endorsements to promote the candidate.

"Newspapers across Minnesota back Al Franken," the ad's narrator says. Video of Franken meeting with various people shows as different voices read selections from the pro-Franken endorsements.

Eighth Congressional District

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan

Nolan, fighting to keep his northern Minnesota district, closed his campaign with an ad that shows him speaking to a crowd and going hunting. Against that backdrop, Nolan gives his enthusiastic stump speech.

"It's time to do what's right for the middle class," Nolan says in the ad.

Republican Stewart Mills

In Mills final ad, he speaks directly to the camera and makes the ask for viewers' votes.

"Minnesota is my home," he says in the ad, which includes childhood photos of Mills. "I'm Stewart Mills. I approved this message and I'd appreciate your vote."


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