How is it that a special MN legislative election in a House District comprised of mostly rural areas northeast of the Twin Cities garners national attention? After all, CNN sent a reporter to town to do a story on HD 32B. Teachers unions were out in full force in hopes that a Democrat could pull the upset in this reliably red district.
Given that the GOP had a healthy 76-57 majority in the Minnesota House going into Tuesday's election, a DFL win would do little to put a dent in the balance of power, so what's the point?
The first paragraph of David Montgomery's write up in the St Paul Pioneer Press gives an indication why the left went full bore in this race (emphasis mine).
Republican Anne Neu won a special election for a Chisago County legislative seat Tuesday, dashing Democratic hopes that voter reactions to President Donald Trump would help them win a right-leaning House district.
Neu beat DFL candidate Laurie Warner by 6 percentage points in the Valentine’s Day election, carrying 53 percent of the vote to Warner’s 47 percent. It was the first Republican-held seat in the nation up for election since Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Ordinarily, Neu would have been heavily favored to win — Trump took about 60 percent of the district’s vote in November. But with special elections often unpredictable, Republicans didn’t take anything for granted.
Anne is a friend of my wife and I, so it's more difficult than normal for me to be impartial here. That said, there's little doubt in my mind that Anne Neu was the perfect candidate if one of the criteria of this race was to not take anything for granted. Anne knows what it takes to run a winning campaign in difficult circumstances. In 2010 she was campaign manager for U.S. House candidate Chip Cravaack, who would go on to unseat 18-term incumbent Jim Oberstar in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District. It was the first time a Republican had prevailed in the 8th in more than 60 years.
To say it's been an unusual road to victory for Anne would be an understatement. Last September, her husband Jon passed away after a three year battle with A.L.S., leaving her to raise five children (ages 8 to 17) on her own. Nevertheless, she persisted (Heh. See what I did there?). A mere three weeks after Jon's passing, Anne announced she would seek the GOP nomination for HD 32B after it was ruled incumbent Bob Barrett was ineligible to seek reelection due to not residing in the district. The following month, the local GOP chose Anne as their candidate via an endorsing convention. The four month grind culminated with Anne's victory Tuesday night.
Prior to 2016, the largest number of Republicans House members just after a presidential election was 69. With this win, the GOP now has a 77-57 majority in the MN House, denying the left a much sought after chanting point. How sweet it is!