Republicans grab majority in Minnesota House
Minnesota Democrats claimed the two biggest prizes of the night with Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken winning re-election. But Republicans picked up enough seats to take back control of the Minnesota House, which it lost two years ago to...
Minnesota Democrats claimed the two biggest prizes of the night with Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken winning re-election.
But Republicans picked up enough seats to take back control of the Minnesota House, which it lost two years ago to Democrats, with the help of wins by some southeastern Minnesota GOPers.
One of the seats Republicans picked up was House District 27A, where Albert Lea first-grade teacher Peggy Bennett defeated freshman DFL Rep. Shannon Savick, of Wells, by 53 percent to 40 percent. Independence Party candidate Tom Price got 7 percent.
In an interview, Bennett said she was humbled by her victory.
"It's all so new, and I'm excited about it. I'm also just so overwhelmed by the amount of people that voted for me. I'm very thankful for that," Bennett said.
Also winning Tuesday night was Rochester Realtor Nels Pierson. He beat DFL attorney Rich Wright by 60 percent to 40 percent to win the House District 26B seat. He replaces retiring Rochester GOP Rep. Mike Benson.
Pierson said the fact that he's won is still sinking in. Throughout the campaign, he said he was focused on trying not just to be a good candidate but also practice the skills of a good legislator.
"I'm always just trying to learn more and listen to the people who live in my district," Pierson said.
DFL state Rep. Patti Fritz lost her House District 24B seat in a close race to Republican Brian Daniels by 213 votes.
The rest of southeastern Minnesota's legislative incumbents won re-election. That includes DFL Rep. Tina Liebling, who defeated Republican Breanna Bly by 55 percent to 45 percent.
Although Liebling defeated Bly two years ago, the Rochester Democrat said she did not take anything for granted and campaigned hard. Liebling said she is disappointed Republicans have regained control of the House and fears that much of the "good work" the DFL has done since 2013 may be in danger.
"Some of the things that we've done in these last couple of years, such as putting more money into the schools, reducing property taxes, raising the income taxes a little bit in order to do those things, I don't know what the Republicans will do with that," Liebling said.
In a statement, Bly thanked her supporters for their hard work.
"I am grateful for all of the people that supported me and for all the volunteers that helped with my campaign," Bly said. "This has been an amazing experience."
Cheering from DFLers gathered at the Rochester VFW started early Tuesday night when news of Franken's and Dayton's victories were announced shortly after the polls closed.
Franken defeated Republican Mike McFadden by 53 percent to 42 percent. Bill Morrison, a student at American Public University in Rochester, said he voted for Franken for many reasons, including the senator's plan to allow student borrowers the opportunity to refinance student loans. Franken's bill was blocked by U.S. Senate Republicans in June.
"He has passed a lot of bipartisan legislation, and I think it's because he comes across as a problem solver. I also think he won because he always puts Minnesota first and he talks about the middle class, especially by letting students refinance student loans," Morrison said.
Dayton and running mate Tina Smith defeated Republican Jeff Johnson and his Rochester running mate Bill Kuisle by 50 percent to 44 percent. Mike Klieber, of Rochester, voted for Dayton.
"He's done a lot of good with education and we do have a budget surplus and not a deficit, which we had with (former) Gov. Tim Pawlenty. We have made some strides," Klieber said.
Legislative race results
House District 21A
Tim Kelly (R): 62%
Lynn Schoen (DFL): 38%
House District 21B
Steve Drazkowski (R): 64%
Mark Schneider (DFL): 36%
House District 24B
Brian Daniels (R): 51%
Patti Fritz (DFL): 48%
House District 25A
Duane Quam (R): 96%
House District 25B
Kim Norton (DFL): 95%
House District 26A
Breanna Bly (R): 45%
Tina Liebling (DFL): 55%
House District 26B
Nels Pierson (R): 60%
Rich Wright (DFL): 40%
House District 27A
Thomas Price (IP): 7%
Peggy Bennett (R): 53%
Shannon Savick (DFL): 40%
House District 27B
Dennis Schminke (R): 46%
Jeanne Poppe (DFL): 54%
House District 28A
Lynae Hahn (R): 37%
Gene Pelowski (DFL): 63%
House District 28B
Greg Davids (R): 56%
Jon Pieper (DFL): 44%