By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are signs the primary election is heating up.

Newly released campaign ads and high interest in early voting indicate primary battles could be closer than expected.

It’s just five days and counting until the Minnesota primary election Tuesday, Aug. 14.

In the governor’s race, Lori Swanson released a tough new ad against fellow DFLer Tim Walz, the man who promises to “fight back” against Trump.

“Fight Trump? Not Tim Walz,” the ad says. “Walz skipped 60 percent of the votes, but took 100 percent of the pay.”

The numbers are accurate.

Congressional vote tracker Govtrack.com says Walz missed 242 out of 379 votes in 2018. That’s almost 64 percent of votes this year.

The Swanson attack ad signals a change in the generally congenial DFL governor’s race.

In a written statement, Walz said:

“I am disappointed that Lori Swanson is taking the low road. Throughout the campaign, I have balanced my work in Congress with traveling the state listening to Minnesotans and spending time with my wife and kids.”

Television ads are running in heavy rotation, and all of the Democratic and Republican candidates are on the air from now until election day.

The campaigns also continue to generate high interest from early voters.

Minnesota voters are early voting in record numbers ahead of the primary, and starting this week, you can even use a voting machine at your county election bureau.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office says more than 195,162 voters requested early ballots so far. That’s a 90 percent increase over the 2016 presidential election year. And almost 88,000 people have already returned their ballots, which is a 197 percent increase over 2016.

If early voting signs are any predictor, the 2018 Minnesota primary turnout could be the largest in years.

To listen to Pat Kessler’s new podcast, Minnesota Politics 101, visit wcco.com, or search Pat Kessler wherever you get your podcasts.

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