Primary Election Day 2014 | Minnesota Public Radio News

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.
    #mngov Seifert campaign manager says local officials are reporting fairly hefty turnout in Lyon County.
    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."
    Steady trickle at Brian Coyle in Noor/Kahn primary. Noor supporters much more visible than Kahn in nbrd.
    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.
    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.
    What Dayton has going for and against him
    "70% of so of Minnesotans say the state is going in the right direction," said Todd Rapp: DFL political commentator.

    But will the DFLers show up?
    "Democrats are going to have to show up at the polls, and Republicans are going to be there when they don't," said Maureen Shaver, Republican political commentator.
    Zellers keeps hope alive
    Catharine Richert, MPR News

    Maple Grove Rep. Kurt Zellers arrived at the Maple Grove Tavern to a round of cheers from supporters.

    The former House Speaker said he expects a long night for his campaign. An hour and half after the polls closed, he was neck-and-neck with Scott Honour with roughly 25 percent of the vote.

    “It’s an early night and it’s going to be a long night,” Zellers said. “We kind of expected that from the beginning.”

    The Zellers campaign said they’ll be keeping a close eye on votes from his home turf, but also in Otter Tail County, where Zellers running mate Dean Simpson is from.

    Zellers has run on his pledge not to raise taxes as governor – a direct contrast to Dayton, who lived up to his campaign promise to make the wealthiest Minnesotans pay more.

    Among Zellers supporters is Steve Tripp of Maple Grove. He Zellers’ fiscal conservatism and anti-tax campaign is the reason he’s supporting the former House Speaker.

    But even if Zellers doesn’t win the primary, Tripp said he will get behind whoever does.

    “Parties have a way of healing,” Tripp said. “Anyone who is conservative or conservative-leaning has watched what the liberal controlled government House and Senate has done to the state – we’re going to rally around anything that represents a change.”

    Sitting next to Tripp is nineteen year-old Brandon Sieve of Maple Grove. Today’s primary was the first time Sieve voted in a statewide election. He said the fact that Zellers didn’t have the party’s backing is a plus in his book.

    “The Republican party endorsement unfortunately isn’t as strong as it used to be,” Sieve said. There was a time when it was and that time is not today. Conservatives don’t have a ton of faith in the so-called ‘Republican party’ anymore.”

    A fractured primary contest may actually be a good thing for the candidates, said Josh Ralph of Maple Grove.

    “I think you see who is going to work, who is going to get out and get up and make the calls every day, who’s going to see the people,” Ralph said. “I think you see who wants it more.”
    Silvers advances to general election
    (AP) - Travis Silvers, GOP, nominated State House, District 7B, Minnesota.

    GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson greets supporters as he enters Digby's in Plymouth. (Caroline Yang / For MPR News)

    Supporters greet GOP Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson as he enters Digby's in Plymouth. (Caroline Yang / For MPR News)

    Newman clinches GOP AG nomination
    (AP) - Scott Newman, GOP, nominated Attorney General, Minnesota.
    FINAL: Mpls school board: @VOTERebeccaG, Don Samuels, Iris Altamirano & Ira Jourdain advance to general election.

    Mike McFadden greets a supporter upon entering O'Garas in St. Paul. (Will Matsuda / For MPR News)

    Latest GOP results for Minnesota Governor

    McFadden addresses supporters after winning GOP nomination
    Mark Zdechlik, MPR News

    McFadden is a first-time candidate who says he can apply his business expertise to making the federal government more efficient and less intrusive. Celebrating his primary victory with supporters at a St. Paul bar McFadden

    "He has voted with the president 97 percent of the time he's for bigger government, [and] more regulation. He's for Obamacare. He's for higher energy costs and he's for an education status quo that does not work for some our most vulnerable citizens in this state. it is not acceptable."

    Like many Republicans McFadden wants the Affordable Care Act known as "Obamacare." repealed. He also says the federal government over regulates business which he says is holding back the economic recovery.

    "I know how to get us back on to the path to growth and prosperity. We can move forward. We can see our greatest days ahead of us and it starts with new leadership in Washington. It starts with replacing Sen. Franken in November.
    Hagedorn wins MN-01 GOP nomination
    (AP) - Jim Hagedorn, GOP, nominated U.S. House, District 1, Minnesota.
    Johnson to face Dayton in November
    (AP) County commissioner Jeff Johnson wins crowded Republican primary for Minnesota governor.
    FINAL: $47M school referendum in NEW ULM dist. for new HS bldg & other repairs, REJECTED by 49 votes (of 4700 cast):…

    Jeff Johnson wraps up a TV interview as his supporters cheer in the background. (Caroline Yang / For MPR News)

    by Molly Bloom, MPR News edited by Michael Olson, MPR News 8/13/2014 3:33:02 AM
    Johnson emerges to take GOP governor primary
    Brian Bakst, Associated Press

    Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson swept to victory Tuesday in Minnesota's crowded GOP primary for governor, then declared himself the conservative who can defeat Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in November.

    Johnson eased past three major rivals to win the nomination, and vindicated the party's decision to endorse him this spring before what turned into the party's first competitive primary for governor in 20 years.

    Johnson beat former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, business executive Scott Honour and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert. He benefited from the phone calls, canvassing and other outreach that came with party support and helped make up for better fundraising by some of his rivals, and vowed to give Dayton the run of his life this fall.

    ``We're going to be traveling like mad and raising money,'' Johnson told The Associated Press moments after his victory. ``Mark Dayton, while he's a good man, he seems to be in over his head somewhat.''

    It is Johnson's second bid for statewide office. He lost in a 2006 campaign for attorney general. He has previously served in the Legislature.

    He has 12 weeks to make his case against Dayton, who cruised to the Democratic nomination for a second term bid.

    Accountant Leslie Smith cast her ballot in Edina for Johnson, whom she saw as the most able to stitch together a winning coalition in November.

    ``You want to go with someone who is electable, whether they're sometimes your first choice or not. Which is unfortunate, but that's how politics works,'' Smith said.

    While waiting for his fall opponent, Dayton spent his time relentlessly promoting the state's economic turnaround during his first term. He faced little trouble in his primary campaign.

    But Republicans see vulnerability in Dayton's support of a health insurance marketplace that struggled to get off the ground. They've also attacked changes in law he supported that benefited labor unions, and have tied him to a new Senate office building they portrayed as lavish.

    It was the GOP's first competitive primary for governor in two decades, but the campaign was mild. No candidate aired TV attack ads against the others.

    Johnson attracted the most criticism from the others late in the race, a nominal signal that he was the candidate to catch. He wasn't the best financed, but had the ground strength of the GOP mobilizing volunteers and call centers for him.

    Johnson, 47, serves on the board for Minnesota's most populous county. The suburban lawyer spent six years in the state House before giving up his seat to run for attorney general in 2006, a race he lost. He remained active in party politics, cultivating connections he leaned on when he secured the Republican endorsement this spring.

    Honour, 48, was in his first political campaign and stressed his outsider credentials. After a career as a venture capitalist that led him to California, Honour returned to his native Minnesota to raise his three children. He spent the most on the race thanks to personal wealth, and took some of the most strongly conservative positions, too _ such as saying he would lay off government workers to save taxpayers money.

    Seifert, 42, was making his second attempt at the office four years after he didn't get the GOP's backing in his first bid. A former legislator who served 14 years in St. Paul, Seifert emphasized his status as the only lifelong Minnesotan who presently lives far from the Twin Cities area. His campaign had the smallest budget, depending mostly on Seifert's hustle around the state to do interviews with small-town newspapers and radio stations.

    Zellers, 44, was the highest political achiever in the field with his two-year stint as House speaker. The position often put him at the bargaining table with Dayton. His role, particularly in the 2011 government shutdown, has been used both by and against him. He holds it up as evidence of staring down Dayton over taxes, but Democrats argue it was a symbol of inflexibility.

    As in past years, the fall election will feature a wild card in the form of an Independence Party candidate. But Hannah Nicollet may make less of a difference than previous IP candidates because she failed to qualify for the public campaign subsidy that allowed them to run visible campaigns.

    Primary 2014: Kahn, Loon hold on to legislative seats

    In two of the most hotly contested political races in the state, challengers are poised to unseat a longtime Democratic legislator and a veteran Republican one.

    Primary 2014: McFadden wins GOP Senate primary

    Business executive Mike McFadden won an easy victory in the Republican Senate primary, setting the stage for a race against Sen. Al Franken in November. In House races, Tom Emmer won the GOP primary in an effort to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann, and DFLer Mike Obermueller won the 2nd District primary.

    Primary 2014: Otto defeats Entenza in DFL auditor race

    State Auditor Rebecca Otto easily turned back a challenger from former Rep. Matt Entenza.
    Johnson says he hopes his opponents "walk side by side with us" throughout the rest if he campaign.
    Johnson says he's going to run a positive race against Mark Dayton.
    Johnson said Dayton is a popular incumbent that some say will be difficult to beat. He says he'll contrast his vision w/ Dayton's promises.

    Rep. Phyllis Kahn addresses supporters after her primary win over challenger Mohamud Noor at Mattie's on Main in Minneapolis. (Jennifer Simonson / MPR News)

    by Molly Bloom, MPR News edited by Michael Olson, MPR News 8/13/2014 3:48:45 AM

    Primary 2014: Hagedorn wins GOP primary in 1st District

    Primary 2014: Jim Hagedorn defeated GOP endorsee Aaron Miller in the primary to determine who runs against four-term Rep. Tim Walz.
    Seifert says he'll support Johnson
    Elizabeth Baier, MPR News

    Former state Rep. Marty Seifert conceded to GOP Gov. candidate Jeff Johnson, saying he would fully support Johnson’s campaign to defeat DFL incumbent Governor Mark Dayton.

    “I certainly congratulate Jeff Johnson, [he] ran a good race, he is my friend,” said Seifert, while standing among a crowd of supporters in Mankato Tuesday night.

    “Our goal right now, from this day forward for the next 83 days, will be to make sure that Mark Dayton is defeated and we have a Republican governor when the fall of 2014 votes are cast,” Seifert said.

    Seifert said he plans to lend Johnson his full and unconditional support.

    “That all along has been what our goal has been, is to make sure we have positive change in the state of Minnesota.”

    Many of Seifert’s supporters expressed disappointment but also said they would stand behind Johnson in the race to the general election in November.

    Among them were Gene and Linda Stageberg, who traveled from Minnetonka to Mankato Tuesday night to attend Seifert’s campaign party. The Stagebergs marched in all of Seifert’s parades, and talked to voters on his behalf.

    Gene Stageberg believes the party will be able to unify after Tuesday’s Republican primary.

    “All four of them are very conservative and very articulate and good candidates. I don’t think we can lose as far as which candidate wins,” Stageberg said.
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