Minnesota Legislature: DFL keeps House, gains Senate control

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz celebrates with his family and supporters after defeating GOP challenger Scott Jensen at the Minnesota DFL election night party at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel on Tuesday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Updated: Nov. 9, 8:36 a.m.

Voters on Tuesday kept the Minnesota House in the hands of the DFL Party, and DFLers gained control of the state Senate as vote counting moved into Wednesday — giving the party total control of the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in nearly a decade.

In preliminary results, the DFL now holds a single-seat majority in the closely divided State Senate. That's a gain of three seats, allowing them to take over from Republicans, who had been joined recently by two former DFLers who became independents.

Two of those races amount to the DFL holding key districts while two would be pickups. That includes the northern Minnesota seat formerly held by Sen. Tom Bakk, a longtime DFLer who became an independent before announcing his retirement.

Other returns showed Senate Assistant Majority Leader Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes, a four-term Republican, losing his reelection bid in the northern Twin Cities suburbs. Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, won his reelection by fewer than 200 votes.

The DFL appears to have held its majority in the House — by a six-seat margin, comparable to where things stood last session. But changes included an apparent loss by Mary Murphy, a Hermantown DFLer and the longest-serving current legislator, in her 23rd term. She trails Republican Natalie Zeleznikar by just 35 votes. That's close enough to qualify for an automatic recount.

Overall, Minnesota voters put DFL control of the Legislature and the governor’s office within reach Tuesday. By 3 a.m. Wednesday, the DFL claimed that it had enough seats to take control of the Senate.

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By 8:15 a.m., Senate Republicans had conceded they lost the majority in the Senate, as Majority Leader Jeremy Miller released a statement thanking candidates for running for office.

“While it does not look like Senate Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, we will continue to fight for keeping life affordable for working Minnesotans and seniors, safer communities and support for law enforcement, and more opportunities for students to be successful in the classroom and beyond,” Miller said.

All 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature were on the ballot Tuesday as Minnesotans decided whether state government should stay divided between Republicans and Democrats or whether one party should control the governor’s office as well as the House and Senate.

Of the 134 seats in the House, Democrats held 70 as they began their term in 2021, meaning Republicans would need to flip a net of four seats to take control. 

In the early hours of Wednesday, however, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, conceded that DFLers would maintain their House majority.

Echoing Gov. Tim Walz’s comments that there was no red wave of Republican wins in Minnesota, DFL House Speaker Melissa Horton called Tuesday “a total and complete win” for her party.

“We know what Minnesotans want,” she told a cheering DFL crowd. “They want fully funded public schools. They want health care they can afford, and they want a government that works for everyone.”

Here’s a look at 10 House races and 10 Senate races that were likely to reshape power in St. Paul.

10 key Senate races

Senate District 3, Open seat in northeast

DFL - Hermantown City Council member Grant Hauschild

Republican - Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich

SD 4, Open seat in northwest

DFL- Former TV meteorologist Rob Kupec

Republican - Pharmacy manager Dan Bohmer

SD 7, Open seat in northeast

DFL - Itasca County Commissioner Ben DeNucci

Republican - Teacher Robert Farnsworth

SD 14, DFL-held seat in St. Cloud area

DFL - State Sen. Aric Putnam

Republican - State Rep. Tama Theis

SD 34, DFL-held seat in northern suburbs

DFL- State Sen. John Hoffman

Republican - Retired nurse Karen Attia

SD 35, GOP-held seat in Anoka area

DFL - Coon Rapids City Council member Kari Rehrauer

Republican - State Sen. Jim Abeler

SD 36, GOP-held seat in northern suburbs

DFL - Teacher Heather Gustafson

Republican - State Sen. Roger Chamberlain

SD 41, Open seat in eastern suburbs

DFL - Teacher Judy Seeberger

Republican - Business owner Tom Dippel

SD 45, Open seat in western suburbs

DFL - State Rep. Kelly Morrison

Republican - Real estate agent Kathleen Fowke

SD 55, DFL-held seat in southern suburbs

DFL - State Sen. Lindsey Port

Republican - Former state Rep. Pam Myhra

10 key House races

House District 3B - DFL-held seat in northeast

DFL - State Rep. Mary Murphy

Republican - Long-term care facility executive Natalie Zeleznikar

HD 7A, Paired incumbents in northeast

DFL - State Rep. Julie Sanstede

Republican - State Rep. Spencer Igo

HD 7B, DFL-held seat in northeast

DFL - State Rep. David Lislegard

Republican - Business manager Matt Norri

HD 14B, DFL-held seat in St. Cloud area

DFL - State Rep. Dan Wolgamott

Republican - Restaurant owner Aaron Henning

HD 32B, GOP held seat in northern suburbs

DFL - Nonprofit policy director Matt Norris

Republican - State Rep. Donald Raleigh

HD 33B, Open seat in eastern suburbs

DFL - Teacher Josiah Hill

Republican - Respiratory therapist Mark Bishofsky

HD 35A, Paired incumbents in northern suburbs

DFL - State Rep. Zach Stephenson

Republican - State Rep. John Heinrich

HD 36A, Open seat in northern suburbs

DFL - Attorney Susie Strom

Republican - Conservation group employee Elliott Engen

HD 48B, GOP-held seat in southern suburbs

DFL - Chanhassen City Council member Lucy Rehm

Republican - State Rep. Greg Boe

HD 54A, GOP-held seat in southern suburbs

DFL - Former state Rep. Brad Tabke

Republican - State Rep. Erik Mortensen

Legal Marijuana Now - Ryan Martin, mechanic