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Election Results from the County Perspective

Minnesota showed its independent spirit in the 2014 election, with all Democratic and Republican incumbents holding onto their seats in Congress in a year that saw sweeping change through Republican victories nationwide. Republican Tom Emmer won handily to succeed Michele Bachmann in the sixth congressional district in Minnesota’s one open federal congressional seat.

DFL Governor Mark Dayton was re-elected with more than 50% of the vote in a year when the Independence Party appears to have lost major party status by not achieving at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race.

DFLers maintained control of all of Minnesota’s constitutional offices, but victories in rural House districts moved the GOP back into the majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives after two years of DFL leadership. The Minnesota Senate was not up for election and the DFL remains in the majority.

The following are the highlights of Tuesday’s general election that hold particular interest for counties.

County Boards

There will be at least 58 new county commissioners in Minnesota in 2015.  The total number remains in flux because there are a handful of races that are within the margin for a potential recount.

  • 208 county seats were up for re-election.

  • 36 incumbents elected not to run again.

  • 3 incumbents were defeated in primary challenges.

  • Initial results indicate that 21 incumbents were defeated in the general election, though there are a handful of races that are within the margin for a potential recount.

Full election results can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website here.

Former State Legislators Elected to County Boards

In what has become an increasing trend, several former and current state legislators have succeeded in winning county commissioner seats around the state:

  • Former DFL Rep. Karla Bigham was elected to the Washington County Board.

  • Current GOP Rep. Mike Beard was elected to the Scott County Board.

  • Current GOP Rep. Mary Liz Holberg was elected to the Dakota County Board.

  • Former DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina was elected to the St. Louis County Board.

  • Former DFL Rep. Frank Moe is currently in a tied race for retiring Commissioner Janice Hall’s open seat in Cook County.

Commissioners On the Move

  • Fillmore County Commissioner Tom Kaase was successful in his race to replace retiring Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen.

County Connections at the Legislature

Republicans regained the majority in Minnesota’s House of Representatives after two years of DFL leadership. Current GOP minority leader Rep. Kurt Daudt, a former Isanti County Commissioner, was selected by his caucus to serve as the Speaker of the House and Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) was selected as GOP majority leader. Outgoing Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL- Minneapolis) was selected by the DFL caucus to serve as minority leader.

Newly elected legislators with county ties include:

  • Republican Dale Lueck, former Aitkin County Commissioner, defeated Rep. Joe Radinovich (DFL) in District 10B.

  • Republican Bob Vogel, former Scott County Commissioner, won the race for the open seat formerly held by retiring Rep. Kelby Woodard (R) in District 20A.

  • Democrat Dave Pinto, an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, was elected to the state House of Representatives representing District 64B.

  • The following House members with current and former county roles were re-elected:

  • Rep. Paul Anderson (GOP), former Pope County Commissioner.

  • Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL), former St. Louis County Commissioner.

  • Rep. Tony Cornish (GOP) former Blue Earth County Deputy Sheriff.

  • Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL), former Soil and Water Conservation District Chair, from Dakota County.

  • Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL), former Ramsey County Community Corrections Officer.

  • Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL), current Hennepin County Health Care Policy Analyst/Planner.

  • Rep. John Persell (DFL), former Soil and Water Conservation Board member from Beltrami County.

Legislative Outreach

Now that the election is behind us, it’s time to meet your new representatives and reconnect with returning legislators. We encourage you to meet with legislators before the end of the year to share your legislative priorities and establish relationships for the new year. While members are home in district, it’s a great time to offer tours of county facilities to demonstrate your legislative needs. Ideas for hands-on learning could include:

  • A trip around the district to view roads and bridges in need of repair.

  • Tours of local jails to discuss health care costs, mental health issues, and space issues.

  • A visit with a public health nurse to discuss ebola, flu season, whooping cough or other communicable diseases.

  • A visit with county human services to view the antiquated DOS based computer systems, MNSure enrollment processes, child protection activities or numerous other programs.

  • Tour of the local workforce center to discuss job training needs.

  • A discussion with commissioner about land use issues, CPA, PILT and property taxes.

You can find a list of all new and returning House members online here.  A list of senators is available online here.

Click here or on images above to view the presentation 

The 2014 midterm elections have shifted the political balance in Washington, and despite a handful of unresolved races still pending, Republicans are poised to control both chambers of Congress in 2015. NACo has broken down the election results and providedanalysis to prepare county officials for the lame duck period and beyond.

In the coming weeks, Congress could tackle a number of issues that would impact counties including FY 2015 appropriations, Marketplace Fairness Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act, tax extenders, and funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) programs.

Also learn how the new Congress could address important issues like tax and entitlement reform, transportation funding and reauthorization, and regulatory issues including the "Waters of the U.S." proposed rule.

The NACo Analysis Examines:

  • How County Federal Legislative and Policy Priorities Could be Impacted by the Elections
  • U.S. Senate Elections 
  • U.S. House of Representatives Elections 
  • Gubernatorial Elections 
  • State Legislature Races and State Ballot Initiatives 
  • Former County Officials in the 114th Congress

If you have any questions, please contact Deborah Cox at 202.942.4286 or

Election Facts:

Question: What are the filing requirements for write-in candidates in state and local elections?

Answer: Minnesota Statute 204B.09 Subd. 3. states that any candidate for county, state, or federal office who wants write-in votes to be counted must file a written request with the filing office for the office sought no more than 84 days before the primary and no later than the seventh day before the general election.  

Links to Election Results: