Primary Election Day 2014

Jeff Johnson gives his victory speech at the campaign party at Digby's in Plymouth on Tuesday, August 12, 2014. Caroline Yang / For MPR News
by Michael Olson, MPR News

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  • Want to know where to vote? Check out the Secretary of State's Poll Finder.
  • Learn more about candidate positions by playing our Select A Candidate quiz.

    Mpls. orders primary day security for 'tense' Kahn-Noor campaign

    Minneapolis officials believe this is the first time sergeants-at-arms have been used in any city in any election in the state.

    On primary eve, GOP governor hopefuls play to their strengths

    No one is quite sure who will win and go on to challenge DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in November. The four major candidates -- Jeff Johnson, Scott Honour, Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers -- don't differ much on the issues so they've been using their experience to highlight their differences.
  • Polls open to decide governor's GOP opponent

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesotans are going to the polls in a primary election that will determine which Republicans will face Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken in the fall, among other races.

    About a half dozen people were waiting in line when polls opened Tuesday at Pax Christi Catholic Church in suburban Eden Prairie where a contested state house race is on the Republican ballot. Sunny skies and crisp temperatures made for a pleasant morning to vote, but turnout is expected to be light across the state, reaching perhaps 10 to 15 percent.

    There's no clear favorite in the race for the GOP endorsement for governor. Republicans are also choosing a candidate to challenge Franken.

    There's less drama on the Democratic side of the ballot where the main event is a statewide primary for state auditor.
  • A Minneapolis police squad stopped by the Ward 6, Precinct 2 polling place at the Brian Coyle Center in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. Tim Nelson/MPR News

    by Jon Gordon, MPR News edited by Michael Olson, MPR News 8/12/2014 1:44:29 PM
  • Wayne Johnson, with Twin City Security, is working today greeting primary voters at the Brian Coyle Center. He shows the buffer area around the polling place where campaign activity is restricted. Tim Nelson/MPR News

    by Jon Gordon, MPR News edited by Michael Olson, MPR News 8/12/2014 1:46:42 PM
  • Twenty-five voters cast ballots during the first 40 minutes of polls opening for Tuesday's primary election in Minneapolis' Prospect Park neighborhood. Several voters said the big draw was the race between longtime Democratic Rep. Phyllis Kahn and candidate Mohamud Noor, who is trying to become the state's first Somali-American legislator. Ann Arbor Miller/MPR News

  • Wayne Johnson, with Twin City Security, is working as a poll greeter outside the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis. It is one of four precincts where election officials have added extra staff in the wake of the hotly-contested DFL nomination in House District 60B. Tim Nelson/MPR News

  • Today's Question: What did you see at your polling location? #tellmpr #mnsen #mngov
  • Minneapolis resident James Bordewick displays an "I Voted" sticker on his T-shirt after casting a ballot in Tuesday's primary election at United Methodist Church in Prospect Park. Bordewick said he had the opportunity to talk with both longtime Democratic Rep. Phyllis Kahn and candidate Mohamud Noor, who is trying to become the state's first Somali-American legislator. Kahn's experience and position within the Minnesota House ultimately tipped the scales for Bordewick. The race "is a big draw for this primary," he said. Ann Arbor Miller/MPR News


    Noor pushes back on Entenza flier

    Capitol ViewMinneapolis House DFL candidate Mohamud Noor says a flier being sent by DFL State Auditor candidate Matt Entenza is misleading voters.
  • #mngov Seifert campaign manager says local officials are reporting fairly hefty turnout in Lyon County.
  • Voters to pick Michele Bachmann's replacement in today's primary

    OnPoliticsVoters in Minnesota, Connecticut and Wisconsin hold primaries Tuesday.
  • 8 things to watch on primary night
    Tom Scheck, MPR News
    People from across Minnesota are heading to the polls today to determine the party nominees for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor and other constitutional offices, and the Minnesota House.

    Because there are several competitive primary battles in both parties, we've created a handy checklist of things to watch for.

    1.) Does anyone dominate in the GOP race for governor?

    There are four candidates vying to win the GOP nomination for governor. Since all four largely agree on many issues, they’ve been using their backgrounds and life experience to highlight their differences.

    No one knows who is going to win on Tuesday. The candidates, their staffers and outside observers say there’s a pathway to victory for each of the four.

    Jeff Johnson has the party endorsement. Scott Honour is the business outsider who has spent the most on the race. Kurt Zellers is a former Minnesota House Speaker who may have the best name recognition.  Marty Seifert has rural roots.  Turnout is expected to be light, and there doesn’t appear to be much enthusiasm for any of the candidates.

    Tip: Several experts say Republican primary voters make up their minds late. That’s why Zellers and Honour have been making a last minute push with TV ads and media appearances.

    2.) Does the endorsement still matter for Republicans?

    Republicans have traditionally held the party endorsement as almost sacred. Run against the endorsed candidate and the party will spend unlimited resources to defeat you. But this year, three candidates for governor opted to not obey the will of roughly 2,000 Republican Party delegates and instead ran in the primary.

    Republican Party Chair Keith Downey and party leaders have been working to turn out the vote for Johnson. Expect party activists to criticize Downey for not doing enough if Johnson fails to win the nomination. The party reported a strong cash balance in its last campaign report.

    Tip: Watch the returns in Hennepin County. Johnson says he needs a strong showing at home to win.

    3.) Will Matt Entenza unseat Rebecca Otto in the DFL race for State Auditor?

    Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Matt Entenza surprised many Democrats when he decided to challenge incumbent Rebecca Otto in the race for State Auditor.

    Entenza also upset many party leaders (including DFL Party Chair Ken Martin) by filing that challenge just 15 minutes before filings closed (and after Democrats already endorsed Otto). Entenza has spent more than $500,000 of his own money on TV ads and campaign mailings. He has focused his criticism on what he says were Otto’s votes in favor of a voter ID requirement and same-sex marriage during her time in the Minnesota House in 2003 and 2004.

    Otto has countered that she worked to defeat the constitutional amendments that were put on the ballot in 2012. She has also criticized Entenza’s spending on the race. She’s hoping the DFL Party endorsement will pull her through. But she also has to watch how a certain part of the state reacts to her campaign.

    Tip: Entenza needs to do well on the Iron Range and in new immigrant communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul to win. Shaky support in any of those areas could mean a rough night for the former House minority leader.

    4.) Turnout tells the tale

    Minnesota is known for turning out a high number of voters in the November election. But there isn't as much enthusiasm for the primary. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says he expects between 10 and 15 percent of eligible voters to cast ballots on Tuesday.

    Officials representing several of the campaigns for governor say they expect a low turnout (anywhere from 90,000 to 150,000 Republican voters). Those figures matter as the campaigns map their strategies to pick up the nomination.

    If a large number of Republicans vote, that could be good news for Honour. He has been running as a political outsider and has spent the most on TV ads in the race.

    A low turnout affair helps Johnson (party endorsement) and Seifert (who has been spending a lot of time working rural voters).

    Zellers has been running a campaign that focuses on identifying and turning out their key supporters. His "secret sauce strategy" could work in a field where every candidate has been using a shotgun approach to round up votes.

    Tip: Will more DFLers turn out for a State Auditor race than Republicans turn out for a contested gubernatorial primary? If so, Republicans could have a hard time making the case that they have momentum heading into November.

    5.) Does Kahn hold off a challenge from a DFL upstart?

    State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, is facing a stiff political challenge from Minneapolis School Board member Mohamud Noor in House District 60B.

    Noor has been banking on solid support from the Somali community in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood to help him win. Kahn has served in the Legislature since 1972 and is hoping support from the voter rich neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota will help her win. This race is being watched by plenty of Democrats.

    Tip: Watch to see what transpires after a winner is declared. Democrats have been treading carefully around a race that has gotten mean and nasty. The DFL Party has relied on Somali voters to help them win competitive, statewide elections. Republicans will work to undercut that work if Kahn wins the primary.

    6.) Do Christian conservatives strike back?

    The Minnesota Family Council and other Christian conservatives have suffered a few setbacks since the 2012 election. Their push to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in 2012 and the voter backlash over the amendment helped Democrats win control of the Minnesota Legislature.

    Six months later, the Legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Since then, The Family Council has targeted some of the lawmakers who voted for that bill. In February, state Rep. David Fitzsimmons dropped his bid for re-election after it became clear he was going to lose his endorsement battle with a candidate who ripped his vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

    On Tuesday, the Family Council may score another victory if Sheila Kihne defeats state Rep. Jenifer Loon in Eden Prairie-based House District 48B.

    The race has garnered plenty of attention from outside groups. The Family Council has spent tens of thousands of dollars on the race. The House Republican Caucus and business groups (backed in part by supporters of same-sex marriage) have spent heavily on Loon’s behalf.

    Tip: The Republican candidates for governor say they aren’t going to push social issues if they’re elected. A strong showing by Christian conservatives in certain districts could force them to be more vocal about those issues as the general election looms.

    7.)  Does the Iron Range rebuke Otto?

    State Auditor Rebecca Otto has had a few struggles among supporters of mining in northeastern Minnesota. Drive along busy roads on the Iron Range and you’re certain to see a few “Dump Otto” signs. Those signs were printed after Otto voted against a plan to issue mineral leases in northern Minnesota.

    The Iron Range has historically been a DFL stronghold but only if the candidate supports their issues. Heavy turnout on the range could be a problem for Otto’s campaign.

    Tip: If Entenza wins support on the Iron Range, other Democrats like Mark Dayton and Al Franken may have to stake out a stronger stance on mining to ensure support in November. Republicans have been working this issue to wedge Democrats who need support from both the Iron Range and environmentalists to win statewide.

    8.) Does Abeler disable McFadden’s machine?

    Despite facing several candidates on Tuesday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden has spent little time vying to win the Republican primary. Since his surprising endorsement win in May, McFadden has spent most of his time targeting DFL Sen. Al Franken. He ducked a debate featuring fellow Republicans Jim Abeler and David Carlson. He also declined to engage his opponents in the race.

    Abeler is a long-time state Representative who has pockets of support across the state. If he fares well, it could show that McFadden has some work to do in shoring up his GOP base.

    Tip:  McFadden has little to worry about if he brings in more than 60 percent of the vote.
  • "Few people are more skilled at trolling Twitter than Andy Parrish, the former chief of staff for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s failed presidential bid,"
    - Bob Collins writes in his latest NewsCut post Politicians, step away from the smartphone.
  • MNGOP Deputy Chair Chris Fields apologizes for his Twitter remarks.
  • "Last night on twitter I sent the wrong message," Fields wrote in a statement. "My comments were insensitive and inappropriate..." (1 of 2)
  • "And they clearly do not reflect the views of the Republican Party of Minnesota. I am sincerely sorry for my actions," Fields wrote (2 of 2)
  • One candidate on the ballot in Minneapolis suspended his campaign. The Southwest Journal has more about Andrew Mink dropping out of the race.
  • The MN GOP shares numbers on historical primary turn out: "From 2000-2012 GOP averaged 157,000 voters. Low of 124,000 in 2012, high of 207,000 in 2002."
  • Bad weather can't be blamed for keeping voters away from the polls today. #mnprimary #mnwx

  • Steady trickle at Brian Coyle in Noor/Kahn primary. Noor supporters much more visible than Kahn in nbrd.
  • Noor supporters on corner of 6th st and Cedar. They plan to be out until the polls close at 8.

  • "A watched polling place is an empty sight. 40 minutes at a precinct with a competitive primary and I've spotted 3 voters,"
    AP reporter Brian Bakst observes.
  • "A bit sleepy, but #democracy and all that," AP reporter Brian Bakst.

  • C'mon people, i've got places to be. Don't you know it's primary day? (They probably don't) #mnvotes

  • Vote is the word in the bushes and on the street in #minnesota today. #onassignment @ Prospect Park,…

  • A national perspective on the Tea Party contests so far...

    How the Tea Party is losing every U.S. Senate battle and winning the war
    Ron Elving, NPR

    Sen. Lamar Alexander easily dispatched rival Republican Joe Carr in the Tennessee primary Thursday, completing a clean sweep for this year's Senate incumbents who faced intraparty challengers claiming the Tea Party label.

    Yet while they were winless, the hard-core conservatives intent on selecting a Senate more to their liking this year were far from utterly defeated. All of the challenged GOP incumbents reacted to the pressure by working to reconfirm their credentials with conservatives. This held true even for those whose credentials should have been least in doubt. [Read the rest of the story]
  • Additional security for closely watched DFL race
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Security is tight at four Minneapolis precincts where a contentious legislative race is being decided Tuesday. There have been accusations of voter fraud and intimidation in the DFL race between incumbent Phyllis Kahn and challenger Mohamud Noor, who is trying to become the first Somali-American to win a state house seat.
  • "We're getting more press than some precincts will have voters" Kahn-Noor 60B race:…

  • MNGOP says it will hold a unity press conference at 9am tomorrow in St. Paul that will include the 4 GOP #mngov candidates.
  • DFL Party Chair Ken Martin holds a presser in St. Paul at 10am tomorrow to discuss the upcoming election.
  • Your Election Day reminder that photographing your marked ballot is frowned on under state law… #mnprimary
  • Primary 2014: Republicans picking Senate candidate
    Dave Peters, MPR News

    Minnesota Republicans are making key decisions today about who they want to run for federal office in November.

    Getting most of the attention is the choice among candidates trying to unseat Sen. Al Franken.

    Business executive Mike McFadden, state Rep. Jim Abeler and Iraq War veteran David Carlson have been the most prominent candidates. McFadden received the party's endorsement.

    The last time this Senate seat was on the ballot was in 2008, when Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman in a race decided by only 312 votes after a long recount.

    In Minnesota's 1st District, which runs along the state's southern border, Republicans were choosing the candidate to challenge four-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz.

    Aaron Miller won the party's endorsement over Jim Hagedorn, but Hagedorn reversed himself after the endorsing convention and decided to challenge Miller.

    Miller, a political newcomer, is a Byron healthcare industry account manager, and has been the better financed.

    But Hagedorn said he re-entered the race because Miller wasn't running an aggressive campaign. Hagedorn is a Blue Earth businessman whose father, Tom, served in Congress.

    In the 6th District, former state House member and unsuccessful 2010 governor candidate Tom Emmer and Anoka County Board Chair Rhonda Sivarajah were vying to be the GOP candidate to replace Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann announced last year she would not run again. Bachmann, who barely survived her last challenge in 2012, endorsed Emmer in the district, which runs from central Minnesota to the north and west Twin Cities suburbs.

    Emmer's campaign has raised substantially more money than Sivarajah.

    The winner will face DFL endorsee and Sartell Mayor Joe Perske in November.

    DFLers were making one choice in the primary for congressional seats.

    In the 2nd District south and east of the Twin Cities, DFL endorsee Mike Obermueller, Eagan, was being challenged by Prior Lake resident Michael Roberts. The two are seeking to run against six-term Republican Rep. John Kline.
  • Walk into #Zellers primary night site, @ABetterMN #dayton ad followed by #franken ad on TVs (tuned to #WCCO )
  • Franken: Health insurer spending curbs a win for consumers.
  • Primary 2014: The race for governor
    David Cazares, MPR News

    In a test of the Minnesota Republican Party's process for endorsing its candidate for governor, three influential Republicans are trying to push aside the GOP pick for the right to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton this fall.

    House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, businessman Scott Honour, state Rep. Kurt Zellers are asking Republican voters to choose them over Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the GOP's endorsed candidate.

    Although the four candidates have similar positions, they have all tried highlight the differences among them -- and convince voters of their individual strenghts.

    Johnson, who served in the Minnesota House from 2000 until 2006, is relying on the backing of the party to help him turn out the vote. He won his current job in 2008, after running for state attorney general in 2006 and losing by a wide margin.

    His inability to win that statewide race may have played a factor in his opponents' decisions to challenge him. Republicans have traditionally agreed to drop out of the race if they don't win the endorsement from state convention delegates as Seifert did four years ago when he stepped aside and backed Tom Emmer.

    Seifert, of Marshall, decided to pursue the nomination without the party's endorsement this time. He has spent much of the campaign in rural Minnesota trying to convince rural senior citizens who traditionally vote in heavy numbers in primaries to cast their ballots for a candidate who lived his entire life outside the Twin Cities.

    Zellers, of Maple Grove, is running on his work in the Legislature and borrowing a page from former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who won the governor's race in 2002 after pledging not to raise taxes.

    A former House speaker, Zellers hopes voters will remember how he and other Republicans in the Legislature refused Gov. Dayton's demands to raise taxes to balance the state budget. However, Zellers failed in his attempt to maintain Republican control of the House in 2012. Democrats won in part by blaming Republicans for the government shutdown.

    Honour, of Orono, is in his first run for office. The former head of a global investment company in California, he is campaigning as an outsider whose experience in business could help him lead the state.

    He has also pledged to cut state spending by 10 percent, freeze future minimum wage hikes and cut the overall number of state workers.
  • Bonus at Scott Honour primary night event venue: jazz stylings of Annie Lawler Band.

  • A postcard from Cedar-Riverside
    Jon Collins, MPR News

    Ekram Mohamed was singing a Somali song into a bullhorn a few blocks from the precinct. She said it translated to “today, today, today is a special day, and come and vote for Mohamud Noor.”

    Ekram Mohamed is only 16, but she said she’d been working for Noor’s campaign since July, first helping people to cast their votes early and now putting out one last ditch effort to get people to the polls. City officials say the early voting turnout broke city records.

    “We knocked on doors, call phones and tell them about the election and remind them, then they’d pick a day when they want to vote, and we’d pick them up and take them to City Hall,” Mohamed said.

    Sonja Quanbeck, a longtime resident of Cedar-Riverside, supported Kahn.

    “She’s been a good representative on a broad range of issues,” Quanbeck said. “She’s been there a long time and I know that seniority counts for a lot in the House.”

    Zahra Dirir, a relative of Mohamud Noor who lives in Eagan, said having a representative in the state House would mean a lot to Somali-Americans across the state. She said his campaign for this Minneapolis district had attracted the support of people from across the state.

    Mohamed Jama is supporting Kahn’s campaign. He said that Kahn is the more progressive and experienced candidate.

    “For us this is more of an issue rather than a skin color or creed,” Jama said. “This neighborhood is a very fragile community, and we need a lot of support from the legislative level, and I think Kahn can do a lot for this community.”

    The primary campaign has divided the neighborhood’s Somali-American community, with accusations of dirty tricks from both campaigns.

    “It’s not a division, it’s democracy,” Jama said. “People have the right to choose who they want to elect, and our community has decided to be on both sides of the river-- for us to do that is really smart, I don’t really look at it as a division.”

    Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl said both campaigns have had to be reminded today to stay at least 100 feet from the Brian Coyle Center polling place.

    “I think they’re people who are passionate about their candidates and their campaigns, and who are trying to make sure that the voters they’re bringing to the polls, or assisting at the polls, are able to get in,” Carl said. “And we have to be there to remind them that there is a 100-foot buffer zone and to please respect that and leave.”
  • Rana Hussein, right, an election judge, helps a voter with a language barrier cast a ballot Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Minneapolis. Elizabeth Flores/StarTribune via AP

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