50 Minnesota state and federal races to watch in the 2020 election

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota residents can vote in the general election every day until Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The presidential race alone is the source of enough election excitement this year, but there’s plenty to keep track of at the state and congressional levels as well. All 201 Minnesota House and Senate seats are on the ballot this year, plus each of the state’s eight U.S. House seats and one of Minnesota’s U.S. senators.

Here are 50 races to watch as Election Day approaches.

DFL-held Minnesota House districts that Trump won in 2016

Minnesota House districts that Trump lost in 2016 and are recent GOP strongholds

Minnesota Senate races to watch

U.S. Senate race

U.S. House races to watch

DFL-held Minnesota House districts that Trump won in 2016

District 4B
2016 results: Trump won by 21.4 points (Trump 56.5%, Clinton 35.11%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Paul Marquart was first elected in 2000. Marquart is a teacher in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Public Schools.
• Republican Brian Anderson is a Detroit Lakes resident and fiber optic technician with telecommunications company Arvig.


 District 5A
2016 results: Trump won by 12.2 points (Trump 51.4%, Clinton 39.2%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. John Persell was first elected in 2008 and has served five non-consecutive terms. Persell was in the Air Force and works as an environmental policy analyst.
• Republican Matt Bliss represented the district from 2016 to 2018 after defeating Persell, who had held the seat for eight years. In 2018, Persell beat Bliss by 11 votes. Bliss and his wife own a resort near Cass Lakes. 


District 27B
2016 results: Trump won by 8.6 points (Trump 50.2%, Clinton 41.6%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Jeanne Poppe was first elected in 2004. Poppe is an educator and counselor with Riverland Community College.
• Republican Patricia Mueller is an Austin Public Schools teacher. 


District 3A
2016 results: Trump won by 6.5 points (Trump 49.2%, Clinton 42.7%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Rob Ecklund was elected in a special election in 2015. Ecklund is a Marine Corps veteran and works at a paper mill. He was previously the president of the United Steelworkers Local 159.
• Republican Thomas Manninen is a law student and has worked on several Republican campaigns in Minnesota.


District 55A
2016 results: Trump won by 4.6 points (Trump 47.4%, Clinton 43%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Brad Tabke was first elected in 2018 and owns a consulting firm. He was elected mayor of Shakopee in 2011 and 2013.
• Republican Erik Mortensen ran to represent the district in 2018 and was narrowly defeated by Tabke. Mortensen is a Shakopee resident and owns a restoration business.
• Legal Marijuana Now candidate Ryan Martin lives in Shakopee and works as a mechanic.


District 19A
2016 results: Trump won by 4.1 points (Trump 47.2%, Clinton 43.1%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Jeff Brand was first elected in 2018. Brand is an insurance agent and owns a rain garden installation company with his wife.
Republican Susan Akland is a St. Peter resident and worked as a nurse for four decades before retiring two years ago.


District 14B
2016 results: Trump won by 3.4 points (Trump 46.3%, Clinton 42.9%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Dan Wolgamott was first elected in 2018. Wolgamott is a realtor and freshman football coach.
Republican Paul Brandmire served in the Air Force for 21 years and is a St. Cloud City Council member. He works in the trucking industry.


District 6A
2016 results: Trump won by 3.2 points (Trump 47.4%, Clinton 44.2%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Julie Sandstede was first elected in 2016. Sandstede has been a music teacher in Virginia, Minn., for 20 years and served as president of the local teachers union. She’s also a volunteer firefighter.
Republican Robert Farnsworth is a special education teacher and realtor. He ran against Sandstede for the 6A seat in 2016 and has also sought the GOP nomination in races for governor and the U.S. House of Representatives.


District 36A
2016 results: Trump won by almost 3 points (Trump 46.6%, Clinton 43.7%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Zack Stephenson was first elected in 2018. Stephenson is an assistant Hennepin County attorney and previously worked as an aide to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Republican Bill Maresh is a teacher and wrestling coach in Champlin. Maresh and Stephenson also faced off in the 2018 election. 


District 6B
2016 results: Trump won by 2.7 points (Trump 47.3%, Clinton 44.6%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. David Lislegard was first elected in 2018. He works in business relations.
Republican Julie Buria is a Mountain Iron City Council member and realtor. In July, Buria posted a meme on Facebook comparing COVID-19 health mandates to the Holocaust.


District 38B
2016 results: Trump won by about 1.2 points (Trump 46%, Clinton 44.9%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Ami Wazlawik was first elected in 2018. Wazlawik is a child care assistant in White Bear Lake schools and has worked as a sexual violence advocate.
Republican Elliott Engen works in manufacturing and as a legal assistant. 


District 37A
2016 results: Trump won by 0.7 points (Trump 45.6%, Clinton 44.9%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Erin Koegel was first elected in 2016. Koegel is a volunteer coordinator for a social services nonprofit.
Republican Ken Wendling is a Spring Lake Park City Council member.


District 39B
2016 results: Trump won by 0.28 points (Trump 45.79%, Clinton 45.51%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Shelly Christensen was first elected in 2018. Christensen is a retired teacher from Stillwater Area Schools and coaches track in the district.
Republican Joe Garofalo is a realtor in Grant and cousin of state Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.


Minnesota House districts that Trump lost in 2016 and are recent GOP strongholds

District 33B
2016 results: Trump lost by 0.5 points (Trump 45%, Clinton 45.5%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Kelly Morrison was first elected in 2018. Morrison is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist.
• Republican Andrew Myers is a Minnetonka Beach City Council member and small business owner.


District 48B
2016 results: Trump lost by 13.3 points (Trump 39%, Clinton 52.3%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn was first elected in 2018. She has worked as an operations analyst.
Republican Holly Link serves on the Eden Prairie School Board and previously founded and ran a therapy practice and interior design firm. 


District 56A
2016 results: Trump lost by about 3 points (Trump 43.7%, Clinton 46.7%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. Hunter Cantrell is not seeking reelection.
Former Republican Rep. Pam Myhra was elected to the House in 2010 and 2012, and did not run for reelection in 2014. She ran for lieutenant governor in 2014 and for state auditor in 2018.
DFLer Jess Hanson was the first in her family to graduate college when she completed a degree in social work in 2018 and is finishing her graduate degree. 


District 56B
2016 results: Trump lost by 4.7 points (Trump 43.5%, Clinton 48.2%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Alice Mann is not seeking reelection.
Republican Roz Peterson served two terms as a state representative, winning elections in 2014 and 2016. Peterson is a realtor.
DFLer Kaela Berg is a flight attendant and former president of her union local. 


District 54A
2016 results: Trump lost by 3.2 points (Trump 43.2%, Clinton 46.4%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Anne Claflin was first elected in 2018. Claflin works for the Pollution Control Agency and is president of her union local.
Republican Keith Franke served in the Minnesota House during the 2017-18 session. He is a St. Paul Park City Council member and owns food and beverage businesses in St. Paul Park.


District 34B
2016 results: Trump lost by 4.3 points (Trump 43.2%, Clinton 47.4%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Kristin Bahner was first elected in 2018. Bahner works as an IT consultant and was one of the organizers of the 2017 Minnesota Women’s March that was attended by 100,000 people.
Republican Dori Trossen owns a health and wellness business and is a former licensed child care provider.


District 53B
2016 results: Trump lost by 8.7 points (Trump 41.5%, Clinton 50.2%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Steve Sandell was first elected in 2018. Sandell is a retired teacher who taught in St. Paul, Mendota Heights and Sweden.
Republican Kelly Jahner-Byrne founded and runs a public speaking and business consulting firm. 


District 57B
2016 results: Trump lost by 4.4 points (Trump 43.2%, Clinton 47.7%)
2020 candidates:
• DFL Rep. John Huot was first elected in 2018. Huot is a realtor and former EMT and small business owner.
Republican Sandra Jimenez is a realtor and owns a law firm with her husband.


District 20B
2016 results: Trump lost by 1.2 points (Trump 45.5%, Clinton 46.7%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Todd Lippert was first elected in 2018. Lippert is a pastor and served as minister of his church until January 2020.
Republican Joe Moravchik is a Northfield resident and previously worked as a teacher and police officer.


District 11A
2016 results: Trump lost by 1.8 points (Trump 44.8%, Clinton 46.5%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Mike Sundin was first elected in 2012. Sundin is a business consultant and former union organizer.
Republican Jeff Dotseth is a realtor.


Minnesota Senate races to watch

District 4
2020 candidates:
• Incumbent DFL Sen. Kent Eken was first elected to the state senate in 2012 and previously served five terms in the Minnesota House. Eken is a former high school teacher.
Republican Mark Larson lives in Hawley. Larson is a motivational speaker and businessperson.


District 5
2020 candidates:
Incumbent Republican Sen. Justin Eichorn was first elected in 2016 after beating Democrat Tom Saxhaug by 553 votes. Eichorn is a small business owner.
DFLer Rita Albrecht is the mayor of Bemidji and previously worked as a city planner and regional director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The Legal Marijuana Now candidate is Robyn Smith. Smith told the Reformer that she was recruited to run by a Republican and wanted to siphon votes from the DFL.
The Legalize Cannabis candidate is Dennis Barsness. Barsness is a pastor and entrepreneur, and ran for state House as a Green Party candidate in 2016.


District 11
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Jason Rarick was elected to the Senate in a special session in 2019. He previously served three terms in the Minnesota House. Rarick is a master electrician and owns an electrical company.
DFLer Michelle Lee is a former news anchor and in 2019 ran for U.S. Representative and in the special election for the Senate District 11 seat.


District 14
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Jerry Relph was first elected in 2016 after beating DFL candidate Dan Wolgamott by 148 votes. Relph is a Marine Corps veteran and owns a lake mapping business.
DFLer Aric Putnam is a professor at Saint John’s University and the College of St. Benedict.
The Legalize Marijuana Now candidate is Jaden Partlow.


District 19
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Nick Frentz was first elected in 2016. Frentz is an attorney.
Republican Elizabeth Bangert owns a childcare center in Mankato.


District 20
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Rich Draheim was first elected in 2016. Draheim owns and operates a realty business and an events center.
DFLer Jon Olson served in the U.S. Navy and teaches at Metropolitan State University and Carleton College.
The Legalize Cannabis candidate is Jason Hoschette.


District 27
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Dan Sparks has served in the Senate since 2002.
Republican Gene Dornink is a carpenter and former member of his union local.
The Legalize Marijuana Now candidate is Tyler Becvar.


District 33
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. David Osmek was first elected in 2012. Osmek works as a health care consultant.
DFLer Gretchen Piper runs a nonprofit strategy and fundraising consulting business.


District 34
2020 candidates:
• Republican Sen. Warren Limmer has served in the Senate since 1995. He previously served four terms in the Minnesota House. Limmer is a realtor.
DFLer Bonnie Westlin owns a family law practice. 


District 36
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. John Hoffman was first elected in 2012. Hoffman works as a marketing and public relations director.
Republican Karen Attia is a retired nurse and small business owner. 


District 37
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Jerry Newton was elected to the Senate in 2016. He previously served three terms in the House. Newton is a U.S. Army veteran and retired business owner.
Republican Brad Sanford ran against Newton for the District 37 seat in 2016. Sanford works as an insurance agent.


District 38
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain was first elected in 2010. He works as a financial representative.
DFLer Justin Stofferahn works for an environmental policy advocacy organization.


District 39
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Karin Housley was first elected in 2012. Housley works as a realtor.
DFLer Josiah Hill teaches at Stillwater Area High School and The College of St. Scholastic. He has served as a president of his union local. 


District 48
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Steve Cwodzinski was first elected in 2016. Cwodzinski taught at Eden Prairie High School for more than 30 years before retiring in 2015.
Republican Jeff Jiang is an education counselor. 


District 53
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Susan Kent has served two terms in the Senate. Kent ousted Sen. Tom Bakk as minority leader in January.
Republican Mary Guiliani Stephens is the former mayor of Woodbury and an attorney. 


District 54
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Karla Bigham was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2018. She previously served two terms in the Minnesota House.
Republican Leilani Holmstadt owns a daycare and previously worked as an adult psychiatric case manager.


District 55
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Eric Pratt is serving his second term in the Senate. Pratt works in banking risk management.
DFLer Sahra Odowa works as a disability case manager. Odowa is a first-generation Somali-American.


District 56
2020 candidates:
Republican Sen. Dan Hall is serving his third term in the Senate. Hall is a minister and worked in business relations.
DFLer Lindsey Port is the director of a campaign nonprofit and ran for Minnesota House in 2016 and 2018.


District 57
2020 candidates:
DFL Sen. Greg Clausen is serving his second term in the Senate. Clausen is a retired education administrator.
Republican Jose W. Jimenez is president and founder of a law firm. 


U.S. Senate race

  • Incumbent DFL Sen. Tina Smith is serving her first term as U.S. senator after winning the special election to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Al Franken. Smith was the lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2018 and previously worked as a Planned Parent executive and for former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
  • Republican Jason Lewis is a former radio talk show host and political commentator, and he served one term as U.S. Representative in the 2nd District from 2017 to 2019.


U.S. House races to watch

1st District
2016 results: Trump won by 14.8 points (Trump 52.9%, Clinton 38.1%)
2020 candidates:
Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn is serving his first term in office. Hagedorn ran for election in 2014 and 2016 and lost to now-Gov. Tim Walz. Hagedorn is likely facing a congressional ethics investigation over his office’s spending.
DFLer Dan Feehan is a U.S. Army veteran and previously worked as a teacher and in the Department of Defense. He now works with the Farmers Union. Feehan ran against Hagedorn in 2018 and lost by 1,315 votes.
The Legalize Cannabis candidate is Bill Rood. Rood is a former teacher and programmer.


2nd District
2016 results: Trump won by 1.2 points (Trump 46.1%, Clinton 44.9%)
2020 candidates:
• Incumbent DFL Rep. Angie Craig is serving her first term in office. Craig was the first openly gay person elected to Congress in Minnesota.
Republican Tyler Kistner is a Marine Corps veteran and completed four tours overseas.
Legal Marijuana Now candidate Adam Charles Weeks is a farmer in Goodhue County.


7th District
2016 results: Trump won by about 30.5 points (Trump 61.4%, Clinton 30.9%)
2020 candidates:
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson has served as representative since 1991. Peterson is chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and has played in several congressional rock bands.
Republican Michelle Fischbach served as lieutenant governor from 2018 to 2019 and in the Minnesota Senate from 1996 to 2018. Fischbach was the first woman to be president of the Senate.
The Legalize Cannabis candidate is Rae Hart Anderson. Anderson is a former teacher and nurse, and she ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2018.
The Legal Marijuana Now candidate is Slater Johnson. Johnson is from Maple Grove.


8th District
2016 results: Trump won by 15.5 points (Trump 53.8%, Clinton 38.3%)
2020 candidates:
Incumbent Republican Rep. Pete Stauber is serving his first term in office. Stauber is a retired police officer and former professional hockey player.
DFLer Quinn Nystrom is a lifelong diabetes awareness and insulin affordability advocate and served a term on the Baxter City Council. Nystrom ran for state House in 2016.
Legalize Cannabis candidate Judith Schwartzbacker ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 and for state auditor in 2014.

 

Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.