The left-to-right shift of politics in northern Minnesota gets a lot of attention in election years. But there are signs that the state’s southern reaches are moving in the other direction.
While President Donald Trump’s campaign efforts in Minnesota have most recently focused on northern towns like Duluth and Bemidji, Democrats seem to see potential in places like Rochester and Mankato.
In the latest example, Gov. Tim Walz — who represented southern Minnesota in Congress for a dozen years — spent Saturday campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Preston, Rochester and Mankato. Jill Biden also campaigned for her husband earlier this month in Rochester.
The House race for Walz’s old seat, between Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth and Democratic challenger Dan Feehan of North Mankato, was recently moved from “leans Republican” to “tossup” by the Cook Political Report.
And polls have shown Democratic Sen. Tina Smith doing better against GOP challenger Jason Lewis in southern Minnesota compared with other parts of greater Minnesota.
Of course, Republicans have far from given up on southern Minnesota, which went big for Trump in 2016. The president held a rally in Mankato in August, the first time a presidential candidate showed up there since 2004.