MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A few key things worth knowing about Minnesota’s primary election Tuesday:
EXPECT ELBOW ROOM
The August primary is a change that began two years ago, when lawmakers moved the election earlier from its traditional post-Labor Day date to give military and overseas voters more time to vote. But in the midst of summer vacation season, that almost surely means little to no lines at most polling places. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicts turnout slightly less than 15 percent statewide, with gusts higher in the hotly contested U.S. House races in the 8th District and 1st District. Voter turnout two years ago was 15.5 percent, and that was with a close Democratic primary in the governor’s race.
NAILBITER UP NORTH
The night’s most closely watched race will be in northern Minnesota’s 8th District, where Democrats badly want to reclaim the seat Jim Oberstar lost in 2010. They want it so badly, in fact, that three of them — Tarryl Clark, Rick Nolan and Jeff Anderson — contested the primary even after the party endorsed Nolan. Each is eager for a November date with GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, who has to prove he’s not a one-term wonder in a swath of the state that leans left. The seat is seen nationally as a top pick-up chance for Democrats.
THE LEGISLATURE WILL GET A MAKEOVER
Forty legislative districts have primaries, part of the regular upheaval when political districts are redrawn every 10 years and many lawmakers opt to retire rather than slog through a tougher re-election bid. No matter who wins this fall, almost a fourth of next year’s Legislature will be newbies. A few of Tuesday’s races could offer clues to the electorate’s mood come November, too. Among the most closely watched primaries are three involving Republican incumbents — Rep. Steve Smith, Rep. Connie Doepke and Sen. Julianne Ortman — who face challenges from the right as they try to hold their seats or, in Doepke’s case, move up to the Senate.
FOR SENATE DRAMA, WAIT FOR NOVEMBER
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has some primary challengers as she seeks a second term, but none that is expected to make the Democrat break much of a sweat. On the Republican side, state Rep. Kurt Bills has the party’s backing against a couple of opponents and is expected to advance. If he does, he’ll have to contend with Klobuchar’s huge advantages in name recognition and money.
IN BROOKLYN PARK, RUN HARD AND REST LATER
One lucky Democratic candidate in Brooklyn Park is guaranteed a seat in the state Senate with a victory Tuesday. With no Republican filing for the office, Sen. Chris Eaton and Timothy Davis Sr. can start measuring for drapes if they win. Eaton won a special election in 2011 to finish the term of the late Sen. Linda Scheid, while Davis ran unsuccessfully for Brooklyn Park mayor two years ago.
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