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November 9, 2016

A Big Night for Republicans Across the Nation and in Minnesota

In one of the most surprising elections in recent history, real estate mogul Donald Trump defeated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. With significant support throughout the Midwest and South, President-elect Trump surprised even Republican pundits with his strong performance in securing more than the 270 votes needed for an Electoral College victory. Republicans also maintained control of both of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Minnesota, Clinton narrowly won 46.4 percent to 45.0 percent to carry the state’s 10 electoral votes and maintain the state’s long streak of supporting Democrats. However, her margin of victory was surprisingly low and signaled problems for Democrats throughout the state. Congressman Rick Nolan narrowly held off third-generation retailer Stewart Mills, III 50.2 percent to 49.6 percent. Congressman Tim Walz survived a surprisingly close race from Republican Jim Hagedorn and won re-election 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent.

In a something of a surprise, radio personality Jason Lewis defeated health care executive Angie Craig 47.1 percent to 45.0 percent in the Second Congressional District.

However, the surprises did not stop there.

Republicans win Majority in Minnesota Senate
For only the second time since the Minnesota legislature started using party designation on the ballot, Minnesota Republicans won a majority in the Minnesota Senate. Riding a conservative wave in rural districts, Republicans defeated Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City), Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield), Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing), and Sen. Vicki ‎Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) and DFL candidates lost in the seats vacated by Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (northwest corner of Minnesota), and Sen. Terri Bonoff (western suburbs).

One notable break from the otherwise dominant performance of Republican candidates was the defeat of Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) by retired high school social studies teacher Steve Cwodzinski. The race had been considered very competitive by many Capitol insiders, but Sen. Hann’s loss creates significant questions as to who will lead the new Republican majority.

The only other DFL pickup in the Senate also came from the southern suburbs where Lakeville Mayor and DFL candidate Matt Little won an open seat vacated by the retiring Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville). Senate DFLers will also face questions as about who will lead their caucus come January. Many of the rural Senators who were defeated yesterday have been longtime supporters of current Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook).

Republicans Retain Control of Minnesota House
Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and House Republicans will again control of the Minnesota House of Representatives when the legislature convenes this January. In a year where most pundits predicted that the Republican majority would shrink or disappear, House Republicans actually grew their majority. They will begin the 2017 legislative session with a 76-57 majority (up from the current 73-61 split).

Republicans won big in rural Minnesota districts where nearly all of their incumbent members won reelection. Specifically, Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa), Rep. Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley), Rep. Tim ‎Miller ‎‎(R-Prinsburg), Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), and Rep. Brian Daniels (R-Faribault) all won reelection. In other high-profile races, Rep. Jim Knobloch, Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee weathered a difficult campaign opposite former Rep. Zachary Dorholt and freshman Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Burnsville) won a narrow victory in a seat that has changed hands every election for almost a decade.

In addition to protecting the majority of the suburban legislators who Democrats were targeting, Republicans regained some suburban seats. Republican Dario Anselmo defeated long time legislator Rep. Ron Erhardt (DFL-Edina). Rep. Erhardt, originally elected as a Republican once defeated as an independent, ran as a Democrat since 2012. Republicans also defeated Rep. Barb Yarusso (DFL-Shoreview), Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL- Balsam Township), and Rep. John Persell (DFL- Bemidji) and won seats vacated by the retirement of Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Rep. Dan Schoen’s (DFL-Cottage Grove) move to the Senate.

Rep. Chad Anderson (R-Bloomington), whose special election victory last spring was something of a surprise, was the only Republican Representative defeated last night. Democrats also won the suburban seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley). Finally, the seat currently held by Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Taylors Falls) will remain vacant until a special election in February following the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling that Barrett failed to meet the state’s residency requirements.


Our Team

Peter Coyle



Peder Larson



Margaret Vesel



Robert Long



Matthew Bergeron



Gerald Seck



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Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.


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