With the sudden resignations of state Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish, two special elections are now coming up, with Gov. Mark Dayton indicating he will call them before the Legislature convenes Feb. 20.
Cornish’s district in the Mankato area should be easy for Republicans to retain, although in special legislative elections around the nation in recent months, Democrats have been winning in heavily Republican districts.
First Congressional District GOP Chairman Jeremy Munson is running for the Cornish seat, as is Lake Crystal Mayor Brad Ahrenstorff, another Republican. School social worker Melissa Wagner will run on the DFL side, she told the Mankato Free Press.
The Senate race should be much tighter: Schoen of St. Paul Park won in 2016 by 6.5 percentage points, but President Donald Trump won the district. Washington County Commissioner Karla Bigham, a former DFL state representative, has already announced she’s running. Rep. Keith Franke of St. Paul Park and former state Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings are said to be interested on the GOP side.
Republicans, who now hold a narrow one-seat majority in the Senate, would love a little breathing room. The DFL is hungry for any victory.
Hard hats like Coleman
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has racked up three building trades union endorsements recently: Plumbers Local 34, Pipefitters Local 455 and Ironworkers Local 512, with 5,000 members between them. This would seem to have been U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s turf.
GOP loves Franken
After allegations that Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched women during photo opportunities years ago, many Minnesota Republicans are celebrating his troubles. But some national Republicans think Franken’s continued presence in the Senate is a gift to the GOP — a perfect hypocrisy trap for Democrats.
The Franken issue could loom particularly large in the Alabama Senate race, where GOP candidate Roy Moore has been accused of pursuing teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Kyle Smith of the conservative National Review magazine writes: “If Franken remains, Roy Moore’s chances of victory in Alabama increase. … Every time Moore’s name is mentioned, the response will be, ‘What about Al Franken?’ ”
A fair equivalence? Democrats would scream “Heck, no!” But, as Smith notes, “Politics isn’t fair.”