Can you name your state senator?
This autumn Minnesota voters will decide not only two closely-watched statewide races (for Governor and U.S. Senator), but also which party will run each of its two narrowly controlled legislative chambers. State legislative matchups do not normally get the ink of statewide elections, but in Minnesota these races are uncommonly sexy, especially for the state senate.
Minnesota boasts 70% of the competitive state senate districts across the Upper Midwest (districts are usually classified as 'competitive' when decided by 10 points or less in the previous election cycle). Of the 30 competitive state senate districts in Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, the Gopher state is home to 21.
The state senate is controlled by the DFL in Minnesota (38-29), but they will need to defend more than three times as many open districts (7) than the GOP (2) come November. Open districts sometimes turn into competitive districts, regardless of the closeness of previous election results, as voters take a fresh look at all the candidates.
The DFL and GOP in Minnesota have been extremely adept at fielding candidates in nearly every State Senate district in recent years (96% of such elections since 2000 have had both democrat and republican candidates on the ballot). In 2006, 65 of the 67 races will feature candidates from both major parties so several intriguing matchups should emerge between the DFL and GOP hopefuls.
Now, can you name your state senator?