Minnesota is now the only state in the nation with a split-power Legislature following the midterm elections, presenting some real opportunities for lawmakers and Gov.-elect Tim Walz. It also presents challenges for DFLers gaining control of the House in January.

A Legislature without a majority or supermajority can have meaningful discussions on tough topics. There will be plenty: gas taxes, health care, mining, bonding — the list goes on.

It’s seems too idealistic that there will be some sort of harmony in St. Paul right away. Walz will have considerable work bridging divides created by contentious sessions that accomplished little. There will be growing pains for the new administration.

But that doesn’t mean Walz cannot be successful. While his obvious challenge is to find middle ground that Democrats and Senate Republicans can agree on, he also faces potential sticky situations in the DFL-controlled House.

The election results clearly showed rural areas of Minnesota are increasingly turning toward Republicans. The Eighth Congressional District turned red for the second time in 72 years. Walz’s own seat in the First District flipped Republican, and Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson’s Seventh District seat is expected to turn when he leaves the post.

The Iron Range still elected or re-elected Democrats Dave Lislegard in 6B, Julie Sandstede in 6A and Rob Ecklund in 3A. But those legislators face increased pressure as rural Democrats in a party that many on the Range feel isn’t working in their best interests — especially on the topic of copper-nickel mining.

All of this Walz can relate to and is especially intriguing considering the rural-urban team he has formed with Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan. They have a unique opportunity to guide the party back on the right track.