While most of the national conversation is on the likely face-off of incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and the presumed Democratic nominee, former Vice-President Joe Biden, in the 2020 presidential election, the ballot facing local voters is a heavy one – everything from county commissioners to city council seats is on the ballot this year.
Candidates for federal, state and county offices were required to file with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office earlier this month. The filing window for city and school board candidates opens in late July.
Following is a breakdown of candidates who have filed thus far:
Incumbent Sen. Tina Smith faces a bevy of challengers, from both inside and outside the DFL party.
Smith will face DFL challengers Steve Carlson, Ahmad R. Hassan, Paula Overby and Christopher Lovell Seymore, Sr., in the Aug. 11 primary.
Vying for the GOP slot on the November senatorial ticket are John L. Berman, Bob Carney, Jr., Cynthia Gail, Jason Lewis and James Reibestein. Voters will select the GOP candidate in the Aug. 11 primary.
Also aiming to become the next Minnesota senator are Kevin O’Connor of the Legal Marijuana Now party and Oliver Steinberg of the Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis party.
Voters in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District will choose between incumbent DFL Rep. Dean Phillips and Cole Young in the Aug. 11 primary; while Leslie Davis and Kendall Qualls seek to secure the GOP nod in August.
In Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, incumbent GOP Rep. Tom Emmer will face Patrick Munro in the August primary. The GOP standard-bearer will then face DFL candidate Tawnja Zahradka in November.
In Minnesota Senate District 33, incumbent GOP state Sen. Dave Osmek will face DFL challenger Gretchen Piper in November. In Minnesota House District 33A, incumbent GOP state Rep. Jerry Hertaus will attempt to fend off DFL challenger Caitlin Cahill in November. Republicans in state House District 33B will choose between Andrew Myers and Marianne Stebbins in August, with the winner facing incumbent DFL state Rep. Kelly Morrison in November.
DFL and GOP voters in state Senate District 47 will choose candidates in the August primary. On the GOP side, Julia Coleman and Thomas Funk are seeking the seat currently held by GOP state Sen. Scott Jensen, who is not seeking reelection. DFL voters will choose between Bala Chintaginjala and Addie Miller. The winners of both primaries will face-off in November. In state House District, incumbent GOP state Rep. Jim Nash will face DFL challenger Arlan Brinkmeier in November; while incumbent GOP state Rep. Greg Boe will face DFL candidate Dan Kessler in November.
The announcement that longtime county Commissioner Jim Ische would not not seek reelection has led to a raft of candidates seeking his seat in the county’s District 5. Randy Clark, John Fahey, Mark Halla, Christopher Lund, David Pascoe and Mark Willems will make their cases to district voters this fall.
Incumbent Commissioner Randy Maluchnik will face David Hatten and Matt Udermann as he tries to retain his District 3 seat; while incumbent Gayle Degler is running unopposed in the county’s District 1.
Marcus Zbinden and Robert Burandt are running unopposed for the Soil and Water District 2 and 4 supervisor spots, respectively.
In the Sun Patriot coverage area, Hennepin County voters will choose commissioners for the District 6 and District 7 seats.
Brad Aho, Dario Anselmo, Carmella Doby, Chris LaTondresse, Cheri Sudit and Kimberly Wilburn are vying for the District 6, seat currently held by Jan Callison. Callison did not file for reelection.
Kevin Anderson, Danny Nadeau and Kim Zellers are each aiming for the District 7 seat, currently held by Jeff Johnson. Johnson has not filed for reelection.
Three county park commission seats will also be on the ballot, with Marge Beard, Dan Freeman and John Gibbs running unopposed in Districts 1, 3 and 5, respectively.
MAIL-IN BALLOT CHANGES
Minnesota will waive its witness requirements for absentee ballots for the statewide primary election in August under the settlement of two lawsuits sparked by the health threat from the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuits were filed by political arms of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota and the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans.
Republican lawmakers complained that Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon overstepped his authority by settling. “The lawsuits and agreements are a flagrant abuse of the courts and complete runaround of the Legislature,” they said in a statement.
Under the settlements, Simon agreed that mailed-in absentee ballots for the primary will be accepted even if they don’t have witness signatures, and that ballots received within two days of the Aug. 11 primary date will be accepted as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Minnesota usually requires that the witness be a registered voter or notary public.
The settlements don’t apply to the November general election; the plaintiffs sought a quick answer for the primary because early absentee and in-person voting begins June 26. League spokeswoman Kayla Vix said her group is keeping the case open in case they decide to pursue it for the general election.
Another lawsuit, on behalf of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, remains pending in state court. Those groups are asking that absentee ballots be sent to all registered Minnesota voters for the general election, and to extend the witness waiver through the general election, state ACLU spokeswoman Lynette Kalsnes said.
GOP Rep. Jim Nash, of Waconia, who is facing reelection this year and is also the lead Republican on a House elections subcommittee, accused Simon of “colluding with a liberal organization to undermine our election laws.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.