Republican state Sen. Paul Anderson will not seek another term this November, shaking up a race for a suburban swing district already expected to be a battleground in the fight for control of the Minnesota Legislature.
In a statement released Friday, the Plymouth Republican said he determined his “personal and professional life require greater attention than serving in the legislature and a demanding year of campaigning currently allows.”
“Following the completion of my term, I will be focusing greater attention on my professional goals, while continuing to serve others in our community and state more broadly,” said Anderson, who serves as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.
Anderson, a business owner and former top aide to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, won election to his seat in the western suburbs by 195 votes in 2016. The close margin, combined with recent victories for Democrats, forecast a competitive race this fall: Hillary Clinton carried Senate District 44 with 60% of the vote in 2016, and the DFL flipped an overlapping state House seat in 2018.
Ann Johnson Stewart, a civil engineer and college instructor, is running for the DFL nomination in the district, which includes Plymouth and Minnetonka.
The outcome of November’s state legislative elections could dramatically shift political dynamics at the Capitol, where Republicans currently hold a three-seat majority in the state Senate and Democrats have a 16-seat edge in the state House.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that while it’s “always a letdown when a strong incumbent” decides to leave the Senate, he expects to “recruit a great candidate” for the seat. He noted that Republicans recently announced new challengers to two Senate Democrats representing swing districts, including Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent of Woodbury.
“I remain very confident we will not only maintain but grow our majority in the Minnesota Senate,” Gazelka said.
Democrats, meanwhile, celebrated the news of Anderson’s departure, pointing to strong showings by DFL candidates in the district in 2018. DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said the decision “dramatically increases the odds of the DFL regaining our majority in the state Senate come November.”