The Potluck

Suburban DFL state senator expected to run for reelection against progressive challenger

By: - November 5, 2021 12:53 pm

State Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, is expected to run for re-election in 2022. Former state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, is challenging him for his seat.

A battle for the DFL endorsement is shaping up in a suburban Twin Cities Senate district, pitting a progressive queer woman of color and senior moderate man who, unlike many other similarly situated state senators, is expected to run for reelection. 

Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, has not officially announced he is seeking another four-year term next fall, but does plan to run, according to two DFL sources. Already four suburban DFL senators have announced their retirements, including Chuck Wiger of Maplewood, Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center and Jerry Newton of Coon Rapids. 

Former state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, announced she would run for Clausen’s seat. If she is successful, Maye Quade, would be the first Black woman elected to the Minnesota Senate. She works for Gender Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group, and ran for lieutenant governor in 2018.

Tuesday’s election results, a rejection by voters of some progressive candidates’ views and proposals on public safety, are expected to shape electoral politics in Minnesota in suburban districts that are key to control of the Legislature. 

Republicans are emboldened by the results and feel confident in making public safety and education their top issues, leaving Democratic leaders in the state Senate scrambling to counter with a vision that can appeal to suburban voters. 

The Senate DFL is working to win back a majority in the upper chamber, which has been controlled by Republicans since 2016. Redistricting will remake legislative maps, creating uncertainty about which districts will be competitive. 

Maye Quade’s entrance into the race has caused a shuffling of staff in the Senate DFL. She hired a Senate DFL legislative aide, Mitchell Walstad, as her campaign manager. 

He was forced to resign from his legislative job after some members of the caucus were displeased that a Senate DFL employee was working to unseat a sitting lawmaker. His last day was Nov. 1. Walstad worked for state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.

Requests seeking comment from Clausen, Dibble and a Senate DFL spokesperson were not immediately returned Friday. Walstad also declined to comment.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.