Minnesota primaries are tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know.

By: and - August 8, 2022 2:44 pm

A vote here sign at a polling place in Hugo in November 2020. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Minnesotans who haven’t voted in the primary election have a final chance Tuesday, with a number of high-profile races including a DFL primary challenge for U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar from former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels; a DFL primary challenge for U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum from progressive activist Amane Badhasso; a winnowing of the field to determine the next Hennepin County attorney; and, a special election in the 1st Congressional District to determine who will serve out the remainder of the late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s term. 

Democratic and Republican voters will also help shape the future of their respective parties in legislative races, with a bevy of highly competitive primaries that will also weigh heavily on the November election. 

Your primary questions, answered: 

How do I vote?

Here’s where to find your polling place.

Use the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website to find your polling location, which candidates are on your ballot and even register to vote. Minnesotans can register online prior to Tuesday on the Secretary of State’s website or on-site on Election Day with identification.

Most polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Voters can only choose candidates from one political party. 

Find more information about the election, registering to vote, what kind of identification is needed, and what candidates are on your ballot here

How many Minnesotans have voted so far?

As of Friday, more than 107,000 absentee ballots have been accepted for the state primary election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. This is far fewer absentee ballots compared to the 2020 primary election, in which nearly 544,000 ballots were accepted. Minnesotans were likely seeking more absentee ballots in the early months of 2020 because of COVID-19.

This year’s absentee ballot submissions appear to be on par with the last non-pandemic primary election, 2018, when almost 144,000 were accepted, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

What’s so special about CD1?

Voters in the 1st Congressional District, which covers much of southern Minnesota, have a bit of a confusing day: They’ll elect a new member of Congress to serve out Hagedorn’s term after he died in office earlier this year. That race features Republican Brad Finstad, who worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the administration of former President Donald Trump, against DFL candidate Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods. 

Voters in the 1st will also vote in a primary election. Finstad was endorsed by the GOP, but he faces state Rep. Jeremy Munson, who has received support from national figures like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

What are some high-profile races on the DFL side?

Omar is serving her second term in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, covering Minneapolis and its inner-ring suburbs. Samuels, currently CEO of MicroGrants — a nonprofit that gives small grants to low-income people — is challenging Omar. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has endorsed Samuels.

Samuels successfully campaigned last year against the amendment that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety; Omar supported the amendment.

In the DFL primary for Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, covering St. Paul and eastern suburbs, longtime incumbent McCollum, who is serving her 11th term, is facing challenger Amane Badhasso. 

McCollum is DFL-endorsed; Badhasso, born in Ethiopia, has worked for a number social justice causes. 

Are there statewide races to watch?

The only major contest is on the Republican side, where the Republican primary for Minnesota attorney general is between candidates Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow. Schultz, a Harvard Law School graduate, is GOP-endorsed. Wardlow was the 2018 GOP nominee. He has worked as general counsel for MyPillow, the Minnesota company founded by 2020 election denier and Trump loyalist Mike Lindell.

What are some DFL legislative races to watch?

  • House District 62A includes south Minneapolis neighborhoods like Stevens Square, Whittier and Lyndale, and is home to many immigrants and communities of color. DFL-endorsed Aisha Gomez is serving her second term in the House. Her opponent is Osman Ahmed, who previously worked as an outreach director for U.S. Sen. Tina Smith.
  • State Rep. John Thompson in District 67A on the East Side of St. Paul was tossed out of the House DFL caucus after a series of controversies. He faces the DFL-endorsed Liz Lee, who worked on Capitol Hill in Washington. 
  • In Senate District 56, former Rep. Erin Maye Quade left the DFL endorsing convention because she was in labor. She faces Justin Emmerich, who has been a legislative assistant to Sen. Nick Frentz. 
  • In Senate District 62, DFL-endorsed incumbent Omar Fateh is running to keep his seat. A Senate ethics panel recently recommended he receive a minor sanction for not reporting a campaign expenditure. He’s being challenged by Shaun Laden, who is the past president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 Education Support Professionals and helped lead a union strike of Minneapolis teachers and support professionals in March.
  • Next door in Senate District 63, the DFL-endorsed candidate is Zaynab Mohamed, who is Fateh’s sister-in-law. She faces attorney Todd Scott. 
  • In Senate District 65, longtime Sen. Sandy Pappas faces labor leader Sheigh Freeberg, in a race the Reformer featured recently as a generational contest. 

How about legislative Republicans?

Republicans are hopeful they’ll take the Legislature in November, but first they have a series of intramural battles in which established candidates and incumbents face upstarts who want to push the party rightward. Many of the latter candidates are backed by a group called Action 4 Liberty. Here’s some of the races: 

  • In her first run for public office, a Prior Lake woman nicknamed “Nurse Natalie” Barnes upset Sen. Eric Pratt to win the party’s endorsement for newly drawn Senate District 54. 
  • Action 4 Liberty candidate Tom Dippel was endorsed over Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, in the newly drawn Senate District 41.
  • Mark Bishofsky, a Stillwater respiratory therapist who says he was terminated for refusing to get vaccinated, was endorsed by Republicans in House District 33B in Washington County over school board member Tina Riehle.
  • Albert Lea bistro owner Lisa Hanson is challenging first-term Republican Sen. Gene Dornink in the new Senate District 23, even though Dornink was endorsed by the party. She defied a pandemic shutdown order to keep her restaurant open and went to jail over it.
  • Bret Bussman of Browerville, who trains soldiers on how to operate military vehicles, was endorsed over Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, for the Senate in District 5 in central Minnesota. 
  • Rep. Steve Drazkowski, who was so dissatisfied with House Republicans that he co-founded his own far-right Republican caucus, was endorsed over Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, to fill Senate District 20 seat, vacated by Sen. Mike Goggin. 
  • In House District 20A, business groups are spending money to support Jesse Johnson of Cannon Falls over Pam Altendorf of Red Wing.

Hennepin County attorney race

Finally, the state’s largest collection of prosecutors sits in the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney. Current County Attorney Mike Freeman is leaving. Seven candidates in this nonpartisan race are vying for the job, and the two with the most votes will move on to November:

  • DFL-endorsed Mary Moriarty, former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender
  • Martha Holton Dimick, retired Hennepin County judge
  • Ryan Winkler, current House majority leader
  • Tad Jude, former state senator
  • Paul Ostrow, former Minneapolis City Council member and an Anoka County assistant county attorney 
  • Jarvis Jones, a local attorney
  • Saraswati Singh, a former assistant attorney general and current assistant Ramsey County attorney

How about school levies?

We’ll get a good idea about suburban voter sentiment toward education when south Washington County residents decide on a big school levy there. Voters will decide on a referendum pushing local per pupil spending up $350 per student. A second question will ask voters to spend more on school technology. 

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues.

Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.