Minneapolis residents will head to the polls for another round of special elections on Tuesday, with one of them perhaps sending the state's first female American Indian legislator to the State Capitol.
The south Minneapolis election was called last year when then-Rep. Jeff Hayden was elected to the Senate seat vacated by Linda Berglin. The district reaches into the Powderhorn Park, Bryant, Lyndale, Kingfield, Field, Regina and Central neighborhoods.
The two candidates, Susan Allen and Nathan Blumenshine, have similar left-leaning political beliefs. Allen is endorsed by the DFL, while Blumenshine is running as an independent "Respect" candidate.
It's one of two special elections on Tuesday. Voters in Northeast, the University of Minnesota, Cedar-Riverside, Como and Prospect Park will also cast ballots in the state Senate race between DFLer Kari Dziedzic and Republican Ben Schwanke. Partly because of the liberal demographics of the district, Dziedzic is widely expected to win.
In south Minneapolis, Allen has racked up a number of high-profile endorsements. The 48-year-old attorney would be the fourth American Indian elected to the Legislature since the turn of the 20th century, but the first woman among them.
During a candidate forum last week in Powderhorn Park, Allen said she grew up during a time of "great political and social change" for American Indians.
"I saw extreme poverty, and I saw that we as a people would not survive unless we learned about our sovereignty and unless we fought for justice," Allen said.
Blumenshine is a 25-year-old carpenter who spent part of 2011 interning in Hayden's House office and was a field organizer in the 2008 Obama campaign.
"I'm running as an independent because I don't believe that we should divide ourselves into us and them," Blumenshine said.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Go to startribune.com/a744 to find your polling place.