With less than a week until primary day in Minnesota, mail-in voting is underway with more than a half-million voters already requesting ballots. DFL and Republican voters have until Aug. 11 to decide which candidates will represent their parties in the November general election.
There are party primaries for the U.S. Senate — the only statewide seat up for grabs this year — and in several of the eight congressional seats, as well as in state legislative races.
Voters can find their polling locations using the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Polling Place Finder for in-person voting Tuesday. To view a ballot in advance, voters can use the Secretary of State’s What’s On My Ballot tool.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, election officials are expecting a tidal wave of mail-in ballots right up until Election Day. Ballots will be counted if they’re postmarked by Aug. 11 and received by the 13th. But voters are encouraged to return their ballots early, no later than Thursday.
Sen. Tina Smith, a DFLer who has served since 2018, faces a GOP general election challenge from former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis. Both have won their party endorsements but still face several primary challengers on Tuesday. The two sparred this week at FarmFest over the federal government’s role in the farm economy. Lewis is a strong critic of Gov. Tim Walz’s pandemic mandates, which Smith supports. The two candidates also have battled over calls to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Lewis has campaigned on a staunch pro-police platform, while Smith said she favors reforms but not abolishing the police.
The congressional race to watch is the Fifth District, which includes Minneapolis. The winner of the DFL primary in this Democratic stronghold is likely to win in November.
Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar faces political newcomer Antone Melton-Meaux, a mediation lawyer. Each campaign has raised more than $4 million from donors across the nation, as has the GOP-endorsed candidate in the Republican primary, north Minneapolis businessman Lacy Johnson.
Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress, is running with a national profile as a champion of progressive causes; Melton-Meaux has based his campaign on a promise to tone down the turbulence and focus on the district’s needs.
The seats held by Democrats in Minnesota’s Second and Seventh Congressional Districts are both being eyed by Republicans as potential flips. The GOP chose political newcomer and veteran Tyler Kistner to challenge Rep. Angie Craig in the Second District, which includes suburbs like Lakeville and Eagan. Neither faces a contested primary.
Rep. Collin Peterson, a rural Democrat who has served 15 terms, faces a strong challenge in November. Though Peterson is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, his district in western Minnesota voted heavily for Donald Trump in 2016. The GOP has endorsed former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, but she must first best four primary challengers, including David Hughes, the 2016 and 2018 Republican-endorsed candidate.
Democrats see a potential pickup opportunity in the First District in southern Minnesota, where DFL-endorsed Dan Feehan seeks a rematch with GOP incumbent Jim Hagedorn, a stalwart Trump ally who beat Feehan by 1,315 votes in 2018. Neither faces a contested primary on Tuesday.
All 201 seats in the Minnesota House and Senate are up for election in November. There are dozens of contested primaries, including a few that appear competitive. Three DFL incumbents — Sen. Jeff Hayden, Sen. Erik Simonson and Rep. Ray Dehn — are facing primary challengers who won the party’s endorsement.
For more on primary day 2020, we’ve answered questions on registration, deadlines and ballots.