Despite millions of dollars being spent against them, Republicans are on track to retain control of the Minnesota Senate, meaning Gov. Tim Walz will have to finish out the remainder of his term with a divided Legislature.
Democrats won an open seat in Senate District 44 and are on track to unseat Sen. Dan Hall in Burnsville, but Republican Zack Duckworth defeated Sen. Matt Little of Lakeville.
Another defeat for the DFL came in Senate District 27, where Republican Gene Dornink defeated incumbent Sen. Dan Sparks.
If the results hold, Republicans will retain a 34-33 majority in the Minnesota Senate, which has huge implications for next year’s redrawing of state and congressional maps.
Several Republicans who were considered vulnerable incumbents are on pace to win reelection, but early ballots were still being counted in some races as of Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.
Sens. Karin Housley, Warren Limmer, Carla Nelson and David Senjem are on track to win their races, despite facing millions in outside spending against them. Sen. Jerry Relph, however, is trailing DFL challenger Aric Putnam after holding a slim lead throughout the day Wednesday.
In the House, Republicans are projected to cut the DFL’s 16-seat majority down by six seats. Some key results include Republican Erik Mortensen’s win over Rep. Brad Tabke, Matt Bliss’ victory against Rep. John Persell, and Rep. Jeff Brand’s loss to Susan Akland.
The GOP’s retention of the Senate is considered a blow to Gov. Walz, who has grown increasingly at odds with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka over the best course of action for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It appears Minnesotans chose divided government again. I’ll do my part again to make it work,” Gazelka said. “We have a tough budget deficit as a result of the COVID lockdowns, but I’m optimistic we can balance the budget without raising additional taxes on anyone.”