Tuesday August 14, 2018
By Erin Golden
Polls are open around the state until 8 p.m. as voters narrow the field of candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, and other seats.
Amina Said proudly held up her mother's "I voted" sticker after her mother Weris Said voted at the Brian Coyle Community Center on primary election day, Tuesday, August 14, 2018 in Minneapolis. ELIZABETH FLORES – STAR TRIBUNE
Minnesota voters are
casting their ballots Tuesday in a primary election that will help
narrow the field of DFL and Republican candidates for the state's top
political positions, including governor, both U.S. Senate seats, all
eight Congressional districts, state attorney general and several seats
in the state House.
opened at 7 a.m., and polling places around the Twin Cities have seen a
steady stream of voters through the early afternoon. Elections officials
are predicting a higher-than-average turnout, particularly because
requests for absentee ballots has surged this year. In Minneapolis, city
elections officials reported that about 31,000 people had voted by
12:30 p.m. — on top of the more than 14,800 Minneapolis residents who
voted early. That's already far more than the approximately 35,200
people who voted in the 2016 primary and 29,100 who voted in 2014.
locations, voters were focused on the wide-open race for governor,
where two Republicans and three DFLers are the most prominent candidates
vying to replace retiring DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Voters don't have to
register as a member of a political party to participate in the primary,
but they can only cast their votes for candidates in a single party as
they mark their ballots.
midafternoon, more than 400 Minnesotans had voted at Pax Christi
Catholic Church in Eden Prairie, the polling place for two precincts,
according to election judges.
These are your choices: Who's on the ballot today for major Minnesota offices
included Hope Kennedy, 82, who said she cast her ballot for GOP governor
candidate Jeff Johnson because she's "had enough" of Dayton.
"We need a change," she said. "I think Jeff Johnson can probably be it."
planner Troy Parish, 37, voted at the same location — but for DFL
candidates. He picked state Rep. Erin Murphy for governor and U.S. Rep.
Keith Ellison for state attorney general, largely because of those
candidates' positions on guns.
really personally like Keith Ellison, but none of the other candidates
really take a stance on assault weapons bans," he said.
Burnsville's Sioux Trail Elementary, Republican voters said they were
casting their votes for the GOP candidate they saw as the most
conservative — though they weren't in agreement on if it was former Gov.
Tim Pawlenty or Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, who best fit
Johnson, 55, who works in health care finance, said he liked Pawlenty as
a governor the first time around, and was encouraged by his campaign
messaging about reigning in fraud and waste in taxpayer-financed
"As a governor in a liberal state he's going to be able to balance the budget and he's going to curb fraud and abuse," he said.
Taylor, a 33-year-old software engineer, said he had the opposite
feeling about Pawlenty. He voted for Johnson, who he sees as the more
conservative candidate, especially on issues related to health care.
"T. Paw was not my guy last time," he said.
the Dokken family drove to the polls at Minnetonka United Methodist
Church together split on which gubernatorial candidate to support. When
they left the polls, 48-year-old Dan Dokken said he voted for Murphy,
while his wife Kris and 20-year-old son Kyle chose U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.
"I think our main goal is to make sure Pawlenty doesn't get in there," Dan Dokken, a technology project manager, said.
Valley, a handful of DFL voters leaving the polling place at Shepherd of
the Valley Lutheran Church all said they were backing Walz.
72, a retired teacher, said he was looking for a candidate who didn't
resort to negative advertising and who had the ability to unite people.
He said he liked Walz's background in public service and was hopeful
other DFL voters around the state would be making a similar decision.
"There's a lot of talk about the urban-rural divide, but I'm confident," he said.
Paul, Katharina Schirg, 41, came to vote at Holy Spirit Catholic Church
with her five-year-old daughter, Helene, who was dressed for the
occasion in a patriotic red, white and blue dress. In the DFL governor's
race, she cast her ballot for Murphy, whom she'd campaigned for more
than a year. She said she was particularly impressed with Murphy's
experience as both a health care provider and a legislator.
"From the beginning I thought: 'This is a woman who knows what she's talking about,"" Schirg said.
Becky Steeber, a retired couple from St. Paul, voted for Walz because
they think he has the best chance at being elected governor in November.
feminist friends would kill me for not voting for Erin Murphy," Becky
Steeber said. "I think she's awesome, but I just don't think she'd do
Meyer, 25, a self-proclaimed young progressive from St. Paul, thought
differently. He voted for Murphy, and voted for Matt Pelikan in the
attorney general's race because he's excited about the prospect of
electing the first gay man to that position in Minnesota.
recent allegations of domestic abuse against another DFL candidate for
attorney general, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, complicated his decision.
"I don't know what to think about (the allegations), but I feel like his position is really untenable now," he said.
Lutheran Church near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, many of
the first voters Tuesday were young and backing Murphy in the
governor's race and state Rep. Ilhan Omar or state Sen. Patrica Torres
Ray in the five-way DFL primary for the Congressional seat currently
held by Ellison.
Tegan Lecheler, a 19-year-old University of Minnesota Student, said she voted for Murphy, Omar and Pelikan.
met both Erin and Ilhan," she said. "I believe they will work with
people of all identities in their effort to make Minnesota a better
place for everyone."
downtown Minneapolis, Delia Bujold, 80, said she sees the primary
election as a chance to correct an imbalance between Congress and
President Donald Trump. She cast her ballot for Margaret Anderson
Kelliher, a DFLer in the running for the Fifth Congressional District
seat. Bujold, a retired therapist, said she appreciated Anderson
Kelliher's experience, which included time as speaker of the Minnesota
issues [she prioritized] and her experience in the state Legislature
told me she was coming with a readiness that the other candidates didn't
have, even if they had supported issues I believe in," Bujold said.
Monteith, a 33-year-old software engineer who also voted in downtown
Minneapolis, said while he doesn't expect his vote to flip any seats
locally, it was important to look for Democrats willing to stand up
against the federal government. He voted for Keith Ellison somewhat
reluctantly, amid accusations Ellison abused his ex-girlfriend. Monteith
believes Ellison would challenge President Donald Trump on executive
orders like his immigration ban.
"The commitment to fight against those is important," he said.
Mallery, 64, said candidates like Ilhan Omar, a candidate for the Fifth
Congressional District, gave her hope to fight back against people like
President Donald Trump.
"I saw new blood," she said. "I saw more people who have heart for a fight. And that's what we need — someone to fight for us."
voters said their opposition to Trump helped drive their votes. But
others said they were focused on the best candidates for specific jobs —
not forcing anyone out.
in Woodbury, Jack Lawler, 18, said even though he voted for Jeff Johnson
and identifies as a conservative, he's not married to his party.
not really about beating the other side," he said. "It's about getting
the best person in office. If that best person is a Democrat, I'll vote
for that person."
election also includes a number of nonpartisan races, depending on
voters' locations. In Burnsville, city council candidate Vince Workman
turned up early to cast his ballot — and hoped all the interest in the
major races on the ballot were going to translate into more votes in his
race. He said the high early voting numbers, surpassing even those two
years ago in a high-interest presidential election year, were a good
"It just goes to prove that the state elections get people off their couch just as much," he said.
Star Tribune staff writers Chris Bowling, Katie Galioto and Gulam Jeelani contributed to this report.