We are sure at some point, someone will pen the words that more accurately describe the 2010 elections in Minnesota, but for now STUNNING will suffice. The final outcome is still weeks, if not months away. The following is what we know today. We will continue to update our posts as more is known.
The Race for Governor: The three way race for Governor was, and is, a nail biter. Independent Party candidate Tom Horner did not fare as well as many had predicted and ultimately barely broke the double digits. The race between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer will ultimately be decided by a recount. Minnesota law requires a recount if the margin is less than one-half of one percent. In the case of the 2010 gubernatorial race, the margin is currently .43 percent, or roughly 8,600 votes in favor of Mark Dayton. Republicans have sworn to fight the results tooth and nail citing numerous abnormalities. In a unique twist, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced today that the Constitution requires him to remain Governor until a new Governor is sworn in, even if it is beyond his four year term which expires in January, 2011. Minnesotans know from the experience of the 2008-9 U.S. Senate race that a statewide recount can take several months. With Republicans still stinging from the defeat in the U.S. Senate race, it would be prudent to take them at their word that they will exhaust all their options to see Tom Emmer seated as Minnesota’s next Governor. If indeed the recount does take several months, Governor Pawlenty could oversee an entire legislative session in his role as caretaker before a new Governor is certified the winner.
Legislature: Few saw the magnitude of change that the Minnesota Legislature would realize in 2010. Most pundits agreed that the margins in the House and Senate would tighten significantly in 2010. The Senate Democrats had a 46-21 majority and had never been in the minority. The House Democrats had an 87-47 majority. By the end of the night, these seemingly insurmountable majorities had completely evaporated and then some. The Senate Republicans picked up 16 seats to assume the majority with 37 members to the Democrats’ 30. The House Republicans added 23 new members to secure a 72-62 majority. There will be at least 3 recounts, as mandated by law, in the House but these numbers will remain essentially the same for the 2011 Session.
The new House and Senate leadership will have a lot of work to do between now and January 3. The House Democrats elected Paul Thissen of Minneapolis to be their Minority Leader. Senate Democrats elected Tom Bakk of Cook to lead their caucus. Both bodies will have to appoint new chairs, appoint new membership to committees and define schedules. With a nearly $6 billion budget shortfall looming, members will have to get up to speed very quickly to solve the budget problem.
Constitutional Offices: Other than the outstanding Governor/Lt. Governor race to be resolved, Democrats retained their hold on the remaining constitutional offices. Attorney General Lori Swanson was re-elected to a second term as was State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.