For weeks, DFL candidate Kristin Bahner of Maple Grove has been getting hammered with negative advertising. Campaign mailers and cable TV spots from Republican groups portray her as a threat to health care, a tax raiser and somehow responsible for a state Senate building that opened nearly three years ago.
Bahner calls the attacks inaccurate, but surprisingly, she's also grateful for the ads.
"We didn't have the budget to put out TV advertising. So, they've been spreading my name far and wide," Bahner said. "They've been pronouncing it correctly and they spelled it right, so fantastic!"
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Bahner, an IT consultant, ran in House District 34B against incumbent Republican Rep. Dennis Smith in 2016. She lost by 2,932 votes. Bahner said she knew right away that she would run again.
"If you're not seeing the change, if you're not hearing the voices you want to hear in government, you have two choices. You can sit on the sidelines, or you can get in the game and actually do something about it," she said.
All 134 Minnesota House seats are on the ballot this year, and 22 of the contests are rematches. Most are in districts that vote reliably DFL or Republican, but some like the Maple Grove race are in true swing districts.
Bahner's Republican opponent, Dennis Smith, is also from Maple Grove and has served two terms in the House. Smith, a lawyer, said there are outside groups spending plenty of money against him too.
"The control of the House of Representatives will be done through the suburban races, through the suburban seats."
Democrats need to gain 11 seats to take the House majority. They're targeting 34B and 11 other Republican-held suburban districts where Hillary Clinton outperformed Donald Trump in 2016. Smith said he can feel the difference this year, but he is not changing his approach in the rematch with Bahner.
"I've always door-knocked and done a lot of advertising to bring issues to the front. Because I'm really proud of what I stand for," Smith said, "what I have accomplished and what I want to accomplish. Really sticking to the issues. I'm really proud of that."
There are other notable rematches, including two that feature lawmakers who lost in 2016.
Former four-term DFL Rep. John Persell of Bemidji is challenging first-term Republican incumbent Matt Bliss of Pennington.
In Bloomington, former Republican Rep. Chad Anderson is trying to win the seat he lost two years ago to DFL incumbent Andrew Carlson. This is the third time they've faced each other.
Republicans are after seven DFL House seats where Trump won in 2016, and some of those contests are also suburban rematches.
In House District 37A, which covers parts of Blaine, Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park, Republican Anthony Wilder is taking on incumbent DFL Rep. Erin Koegel. They faced each other two years ago when the seat was open. Koegel won by 539 votes in a three-way contest that included a Libertarian Party candidate who received 1,600 votes.
Wilder, a businessman, said he has been trying to win over those third-party voters.
"You have to pay attention to the 1,600 number. Many people within my district need that representation. I think that I've reached them. I've tried to present who I am," Wilder said.
Koegel, a volunteer coordinator, is also working to get more votes this time.
"I just want to ensure constituents that even if they don't agree with me on all the issues that they still have representation up at the Capitol, and that they can come to me if they have a problem or an issue that arises," she said, adding that it helps to have two years of experience as the DFL incumbent.