WASHINGTON – The Cook Political Report now labels the 2018 Minnesota gubernatorial race as a toss-up election in their latest analysis.
The article by the respected nonpartisan website’s Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy notes that the primaries are growing more crowded as politicians from both parties attempt to fill the vacancy which Gov. Mark Dayton will leave at the end of his second term.
“Both parties are hosting crowded primaries and the outcome of both those contests will determine how competitive this contest becomes in the general election,” Duffy writes. “But after eight years of a Democratic Governor, voters might be ready for a change.”
Currently, ten candidates have announced their intent to seek their respective party’s nomination, four Republicans and six Democrats. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and State Reps. Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy, and Paul Thissen have announced their candidacies thus far on the DFL side. Thissen is also a former Speaker of the Minnesota House, and ran for governor previously in 2010.
On the Republican side, 2014 Republican nominee and current Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has returned for a second crack at the governor’s mansion. He is joined by Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman, and State Rep. Matt Dean. Christopher Chamberlain is the other announced candidate. His LinkedIn page also states he ran for president in 2016, and his last listed actual job was as a telemarketer.
The Cook Report’s analysis notes that Minnesota is a much more purple state than most people give it credit for. Currently Republicans have control of both houses of the state legislature. They currently hold a 77-57 majority in the House, having taken control in 2014. A 2016 electoral surprise was the slim majority Republicans claimed in the Senate, winning control of the chamber 34-33.
Statewide, however, Republicans have not done well in Minnesota for some time. The last statewide election the party won was the 2006 re-election of then Gov. Tim Pawlenty. In that year Republicans also lost control of the positions of State Auditor and Secretary of State, with incumbents losing in both races.
Since 2006, the Republican party has gone 0 for 10 in statewide elections, covering two U.S. Senate races and Minnesota’s four constitutional offices.