Newspaper article

DFL Appears Poised to Regain Minnesota Senate and Has a Shot at Retaking House

Newspaper article

DFL Appears Poised to Regain Minnesota Senate and Has a Shot at Retaking House

Article excerpt

In the final days before the election, it appears that the Republican grip on the state Legislature is slipping away.

"This will not be 2008," said Howes of the year that Obama swept to a 10-point victory in Minnesota. "If it's like 2004 [when John Kerry carried Minnesota by 3 percentage points], it's going to be close. If it's like 2000 [when Al Gore carried Minnesota by just 2 points], I win."

Howes, unlike the majority in his caucus, supports big bonding bills. That gives him some support among blue-collar workers.

On the other hand, Persell has the backing of tribal leaders in a district in which American Indians make up 19 percent of the population.

Back and forth it goes, although most "insiders" interviewed by MinnPost believe Howes will eke out a close win in a district that the MinnPost analysis shows has a DFL history.

Races such as the Persell-Howes matchup are being played out across the state, sometimes in confounding ways.

For example, the MinnPost analysis -- based on voting practices in the last three elections -- shows a heavy DFL lean in the new Senate District 5. But redistricting has put DFL incumbent Tom Saxhaug up against Republican first-term incumbent John Carlson. Despite the three-term Saxhaug typically breezing to victories, even DFLers are calling this race "extremely close."

This is one of nine contests that DFLers consider "swing races" for control of the Senate. DFLers believe they need to win only two or three of them to regain Senate control. It should be noted that many of the DFL-designated swing races are not among MinnPost's 12 Senate races.

Senate races

How do MinnPost's 12 Senate races shape up?

Again, based on numerous interviews, DFLers appear to be running very well in the following races:

* District 36, where DFLer John Hoffman faces incumbent Republican Ben Kruse.

* District 37, where former state Rep Alice Johnson is running against incumbent Republican Pam Wolf.

* And District 44, where DFL incumbent Terri Bonoff is paired with the GOP's David Gaither.

DFLers appear to hold slight advantages in the following Senate races:

* District 20, where DFLer Kevin Dahle faces Republican Mike Dudley.

* District 24, where DFLer Vicki Jensen is paired with Republican Vern Swedin.

* District 51, where DFLer Jim Carlson is running against incumbent Republican Ted Daley.

Meantime, the GOP candidates seem to be running well in the following races:

* District 14, where incumbent Republican John Pederson faces DFLer Jerry McCarter.

* District 26, which matches incumbent Republican Carla Nelson and the DFL's Kenneth Moen.

* And District 28, where incumbent Republican Jeremy Miller and the DFL's Jack Krage are competing.

Additionally, in District 53, GOP incumbent Ted Lillie seems to have a slight advantage over DFLer Susan Kent.

That leaves two coin-flip Senate races: incumbents Saxhaug and Carlson in District 5, and incumbent Republican Joe Gimse versus incumbent DFLer Lyle Koenen in District 17. …

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