MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two U.S. Senate candidates met for their final debate in St. Paul Sunday night.

Democrat Tina Smith and Republican Karin Housley faced off for the last time before the election on Tuesday.

And this was the last major candidate debate before the election. The hour-long Minnesota Public Radio debate revealed sharp differences.

minnesota politics 101 1400x1400 Smith, Housley Hold Final Debate Before Midterm Elections

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Smith supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, Housley does not. Housley said the Republican tax bill jump-started the booming economy, Smith says the tax cuts went to the rich.

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And this interesting exchange about equal pay for women, who make 80 cents for every dollar a man earns:  Smith supports federal legislation for pay equity. Housley does not. She says pay mandates will hurt business.

“I don’t think we need any more mandates on our small business because that’s what squelches jobs,” Housley said. “Whenever you put women in their own category and not make them strong and tell them that we have to make laws because you aren’t equal to men, that’s the problem.”

“When women have economic security, families have economic security and our whole economy does better,” Smith said. “Women are half of the population. And the idea that half of the population in this country and in this state are not able to have the same opportunity and the same wages as me, it brings us all down.”

Only a couple of days before the election.

And this weekend the political parties pivoted to the last biggest job: Getting people out to vote.

It’s a non-stop campaign blitz around the state. Democrats calling the election a referendum on President Donald Trump.

“And in 55 hours we get to start putting an end to what they started,” Democratic Governor Candidate Tim Walz said.

Across the state, in-person early voting is underway. And it’s wildly popular for the candidates of either party.

Motivating supporters is now job one. Both parties have sophisticated get-out-the-vote operations, no matter what political forecasters are predicting Tuesday.

“And they told us they are predicting three days from now a red tsunami that’s going to hit Minnesota with impressive force,” Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan said.

There does seem to be a lot of interest. The Secretary of State reports more than 400,000 people have already voted early. A sign of higher than usual interest in what’s happening.

We’ve heard a lot about health care, the economy and immigration. What impact is President Trump having here in Minnesota? Huge.

He’s not on the ballot, but the President himself says it is a referendum on him. And for Republican and Democratic voters, that may be exactly what it is, like it or not.

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