An outsized number of candidates — around 394 — have filed to run for state and federal offices in Minnesota this year, numbers given a boost by DFL primaries and competitive open races, according to an analysis of data from the Minnesota Secretary of State.
When comparing this midterm’s 148 partisan election contests to previous years — which can be done by discounting the less-common Minnesota Senate races — we can see a spike of candidates not seen since the early 2000s when third parties were more active.
By that comparison, more Minnesota Democrats have filed to run for state and federal office per race than in the last couple decades, while a somewhat smaller surge of GOP candidates have entered the fray to contend for governor, the U.S. Senate and in hotly-contested U.S. House races.
Even when adding in Minnesota Senate races, the rate of overall candidate filings per race is still noticeably greater than past years, particularly among Democrats. This is partially because the DFL has more open turf to defend than Republicans this year.
A confluence of open races is a main factor explaining why so many people are running for office this year. This in part was created by a cascading effect of candidates switching races, like Lori Swanson leaving the Attorney General’s office to run for governor, Rep. Keith Ellison leaving the Fifth District to run for Attorney General, Rep. Ilhan Omar leaving the Minnesota Legislature to run in the Fifth District, and so on.
Additionally, Minnesota’s governorship is open for the first time in eight years since Mark Dayton isn't running for another term, attracting nearly a dozen candidates trying to replace him across parties. More than 30 retirements and vacancies overall among state and federal offices adds to the number of incumbents not seeking reelection.
Two U.S. Senate races are simultaneously on the ballot, which doesn't usually happen, including a special election for Al Franken’s former seat that’s currently occupied by DFL Sen. Tina Smith.
Minnesota is also a national battleground for the U.S. House, with four districts considered highly competitive, including two open seats in the DFL-held First and Eighth Districts. Both parties are battling for control for Minnesota's legislative chambers and the U.S. House and Senate -- Republicans to maintain their control and Democrats to challenge President Donald Trump.
This herd will be drastically thinned after Minnesota’s primary election on Aug. 14, when dozens of primaries for state and federal offices will decide a narrower field of nominees.
Check out who's running for Minnesota's major political offices in 2018.