Full election results confirm what many already expected: Minnesota will usher in another two years of divided state government come January.
Initial election returns showed Republicans maintaining a slim majority in the Minnesota Senate and Democrats holding control of the state House.
On Tuesday, local election officials finished counting ballots, effectively sealing that outcome.
By holding a one-vote majority in the Senate, Republicans will retain a crucial role in both policy and politics that their party would have lost if Democrats had taken control of the upper chamber.
The next Legislature is slated to work with DFL Gov. Tim Walz, to address the pandemic, a major budget shortfall, and the redrawing of state and federal political districts for the next 10 years.
Lawmakers also are expected to confront issues ranging from school funding to legal marijuana.
Democrats needed a net pickup of only two seats two wrest back control of the Senate.
Instead, a 34-33 split gives Republicans in the Senate a one-vote edge, while GOP wins in the House brought the DFL’s majority in that chamber down to 70-64 so far.
Recounts in a number of close seats could change the margins but would not shift the overall balance of power.
While the deadline for receiving and processing eligible ballots has passed, several steps remain before the results are final.
The state canvassing board will not meet to certify the results until Nov. 24.
But as it stands now, the count shows Republican incumbents emerging as winners in two close Senate races that could have flipped the chamber into DFL hands. Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, defeated two-time DFL rival Bonnie Westlin by 904 votes in a suburban seat, while Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, held off a challenge from Democrat Aleta Borrud in a district Joe Biden won by a wide margin.
Both Borrud and Westlin conceded earlier this week, though the Associated Press did not issue calls in the contests until the final ballots were counted.
Two DFL incumbents in the Senate, Matt Little of Lakeville and Dan Sparks of Austin, lost their re-election bids to GOP candidates, while GOP incumbent Jerry Relph was defeated by Democrat Aric Putnam by 316 votes in St. Cloud.
In the House, Republican challengers ousted several incumbents in greater Minnesota and the suburbs, outperforming President Donald Trump in a number of districts.
At least one close race in the House will head to an automatic recount and several other recounts could be requested under state law.
While the outcome of those challenges could further narrow the split in that chamber, they would not alter DFL majority control. The close Senate race in St. Cloud is also eligible for a recount, though it’s not clear whether one will be requested.
The stakes in the Nov. 3 election attracted heavy spending from outside interest groups seeking to influence the outcome of key state legislative races.
In the end, voters handed lawmakers a divided Legislature, one of the only ones in the nation.
While the split has raised fears of partisan gridlock, some top legislators say a track record of bipartisan deals in recent sessions suggests leaders will once again work across the aisle to reach compromise this year.
Torey Van Oot • 651-925-5049