The 2018 midterms are upon us!
Will there indeed be a "blue wave" or will team red hold firm? You know where my heart resides but I will do my best to share predictions based on what I believe (not hope) will happen.
Minnesota Governor: This is the second go-round for GOP candidate Jeff Johnson as he looks to win this open race against CD1 Congressman Tim Walz. I believe Johnson would be a fantastic governor but, unfortunately, his campaigning has once again left us wanting. Meanwhile, the fraudulent Walz is getting cover from a friendly MN media for essentially admitting he tamped down his "progressive" chops to continue to be reelected in a swing district like CD1.
I underestimated Johnson in the primary, as he scored a resounding double digit victory over the well-funded Tim Pawlenty. Can he pull of a similar upset in the general? My gut tells me it'll be about a 4-point Walz victory but I'd be far less shocked if Johnson pulls this off than I was when Donald Trump was elected President in 2016.
US Senator from MN: Incumbent Amy Klobuchar has been overwhelmingly elected to two terms. While GOP opponent Jim Newberger is a solid candidate, his woeful lack of money prevented him from reaching the masses with his message. That, and Klobee has the reputation of being able to work across the aisle despite her voting record saying something completely different. Klobuchar reelected to a third term by about 15-20.
US Senator from MN (special election): This is an open race thanks to the resignation of Sen. Al Franken last year. My friend Karin Housley has run a tireless campaign against interim senator Tina Smith. While I would love to see Karin prevail, she's never held a lead in this race though she's been within striking distance at times. I would absolutely love to be wrong here but I say Smith ekes out a 3-5 point win.
Secretary of State: Steve Simon will defeat Republican challenger John Howe.
Auditor: This is an open race featuring Republican Pam Myhra and DFLer Julie Blaha. Myhra has the advantage here in that she's a CPA, a former state legislator and previously a Lt Gov candidate (she was Marty Seifert's running mate in the 2014 GOP primary). She even earned the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a rare feat for a statewide GOP candidate. This is one race where Republicans have a chance to break their 12-year statewide losing streak. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it'll happen with a Myhra victory!
Attorney General: A Republican has not been elected MN AG since 1966 (Douglas Head, who only served one term). Thanks to the Dems trotting out the deplorable Keith Ellison (not even the Strib would endorse him) to be their candidate, this office also has a legit shot to break the GOP doldrums statewide. I say Doug Wardlow gets it done with a narrow win!
MN House: The Republicans currently hold a 77-57 majority, their largest in over a decade. I believe the GOP advantage will shrink somewhat, but not by any more than 5 seats.
MN Senate: The GOP has held a scant 34-33 majority the past two legislative sessions. However, Republican senator Michelle Fischbach resigned her seat earlier this year, so a special election is taking place in Senate District 13 given the full Senate is not up again until 2020.
Jeff Howe has represented 13A in the MN House for six years. DFLer Joe Perske dubs himself a "zealous moderate" who is pro-gun and pro-life.
At the end of the day, whomever wins this race determines which party has the majority in the Senate and on its committees. While Perske may be the equivalent of an urban Republican, is there any doubt whom he'd support to be Senate Majority Leader if having to choose between Tom Bakk and Paul Gazleka? Howe has won his House race by an average of 24 points in each of his three contests. He's a known commodity in what is a solid red senate district, so he should prevail by 10-15 points.
MN Congressional District 1: Is the third time the charm for Republican Jim Hagedorn? He lost to incumbent Tim Walz by less than 1% in 2016, so it would appear the R-leaning district is ripe for a pickup now that Walz is gone. Dem Dan Feehan has closed the gap of late making this race a "toss up." I say Hagedorn squeaks by with a narrow win.
MN Congressional District 2: It's a rematch of 2016 with Republican Jason Lewis being opposed by Dem Angie Craig. Lewis prevailed by a shade less than 2% two years ago, but one could argue that was in part due to Paul Paula Overby siphoning off close to 8% of the vote. Craig is re-litigating the 2016 campaign by taking Lewis's radio show comments out of context and using them as attack ads while doing little to tout her own credentials. She has also decried exorbitant money in politics while shamelessly accepting huge donations from the likes of Bloomberg-affiliated gun grabber organizations. While this race is being projected as "Leans Dem" I have faith that CD2 voters will see through Craig's cynical ploy and look at Lewis's accomplishments. I say Lewis barely wins reelection.
MN Congressional District 3: Five-term incumbent Erik Paulsen is in jeopardy here since he's used this campaign to distance himself from President Trump as well tout his "common sense" "gun control" proposals. The former will not earn him the love he desires from proggies and moderate Dems in what is becoming an increasingly blue CD. The latter has alienated perhaps one of the more dedicated and effective political demographics in the state (i.e. MN shooters).
Dem challenger Dean Phillips may be an empty suit but it's an expensive one. As such, he may have purchased himself a House seat here with the tremendous amount of personal wealth he's infused into his otherwise vapid campaign. Sadly, I see this seat as a Dem flip.
MN Congressional District 4: God bless Republican Greg Ryan as he makes his third run at the shrill and unaccomplished Betty McCollum. Unfortunately, Betty still wins by 20-plus.
MN Congressional District 5: Current MN House member Ilhan Omar is the Democrat in this race being opposed by Republican Jen Zielinski.
Omar loathes Israel, has used campaign funds from her MN House account for personal reasons and has left more questions than answers regarding allegations she once married her brother in an effort to commit immigration fraud.
But if you're a Dem in CD5, you're pretty much bulletproof. Omar wins comfortably.
MN Congressional District 6: The reddest district in the state sees Republican Tom Emmer easily reelected to his third term in the U.S. House.
MN Congressional District 7: This CD is nearly on par with the Sixth in terms of being a strong Republican area. Despite that, 14-term incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson continues to be reelected. Republican challenger Dave Hughes got within 5 points of Peterson in 2016, so he decided almost immediately to take another crack at this. Recently the web site Real Clear Politics change this race from "Leans Dem" to "Toss Up."
I believe Hughes has momentum on his side, so I'm going to call this a GOP flip!
MN Congressional District 8: The DCCC pulled out of this race a couple of weeks ago to intensify its efforts in holding on to CD1 and flipping CD2. They too must be convinced Republican Pete Stauber will defeat Dem Joe Radinovich in what is an open race. That means this would be only the second time in seventy years that a Republican wins CD8. Stauber prevails by about six.
US Senate: Senate Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage and are defending only 9 of 35 seats up for election.
In North Dakota, incumbent Dem Heidi Heitkamp has been dead woman walking for some time now. A Kevin Cramer victory puts the GOP advantage at 52-48. That means the only way Dems take control is if they flip three Republican held seats. The one path they have to do so is win open races in Tennessee and Arizona as well as oust incumbent Dean Heller in Nevada. But I believe they only get one of those, which would put the Republican majority back at 51-49.
Democrat incumbents are also very vulnerable in Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Florida (Bill Nelson) and Indiana (Joe Donnelly). Montana's Jon Tester and West Virginia's Joe Manchin have also seen their reelection prospects receive a serious challenge. I'll say the GOP takes 2 of those 5, putting them at 53-47.
There's also been talk of surprise Republican wins in what are typically Democrat strongholds of Michigan, Minnesota(!) and New Jersey. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the GOP snags one of those.
Final prediction: Republicans achieve a net gain of three seats, putting their majority at 54-46.
US House: With Republicans currently holding 235 seats (plus 5 vacancies previously held by the GOP), the Dems need to flip 23 in order to attain a majority. According to Real Clear Politics, there are 15 GOP held seats in either the "Likely Dem" or "Leans Dem" category (Whereas there are only two Dem seats in Leans/Likely GOP). And of the 33 "toss up" races, 28 are held by Republicans. Unfortunately, the math just isn't in the GOP's favor.
I'm going to say Democrats wrest control of the House with a 25-30 seat gain.
As always, happy voting!