2020 was a major election year, with the President, members of Congress, all 201 Minnesota legislators, and many judicial seats and local elected officials on the ballot. Like many other years, Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout, with nearly 4 of out 5 eligible Minnesotans voting—a remarkable rate that hasn’t been seen in decades!
While the results of some elections are still being finalized as of this posting, winners have been declared for most. The outcomes paint a picture of governing where a lot has changed, and yet a lot has also stayed the same. Keep reading for more on what we know and how you can stay involved!
Presidential Race Called for Biden-Harris
With more than 270 electoral votes secured, former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared President-Elect and has started a transition plan to assume office on January 20, 2021. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, made history as the first woman and first person of color elected to the office of Vice President.
Votes for president were particularly close in multiple states, such as Wisconsin and Georgia, and several recounts have been initiated. Legal challenges have also been brought forward by President Trump’s campaign. There is widespread consensus, however, that the current results will stand.
Balance of Congress TBD
Of Minnesota’s nine congressional seats, all but one (Senator Klobuchar) was up for re-election, and all but one incumbent will return to Washington, DC.
Congressman Collin Peterson (DFL), who has represented the 7th district covering nearly all western Minnesota, lost to former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach (Republican). Peterson has served as Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, which also oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that helps more than 400,000 Minnesotans afford nutritious food each month.
Senator Tina Smith (DFL) and Congressmembers Betty McCollum (DFL), Dean Phillips (DFL), Ilhan Omar (DFL), Angie Craig (DFL), Jim Hagedorn (Republican), Tom Emmer (Republican) and Pete Stauber (Republican) were all elected to serve Minnesota for another term.
Nationally, Democrats retained their majority in the U.S. House, but with several U.S. Senate races still to be called, including a runoff election on January 5 for two senate seats in Georgia, we can’t yet say which party will control the Senate and what it means for balance of power in Congress. No matter the outcome, it will have significant implications for what President-Elect Biden will or will not be able to accomplish during his presidency.
Minnesota Stays the Only Divided Legislature in the Nation
We’ll see another two years of a split legislature in Minnesota, after Democrats held their majority in the House and Republicans kept control of the Senate. In both cases, however, majorities narrowed, and the rural-urban divide that is frequently bemoaned at the Capitol became a bit more pronounced.
Lawmakers opted to stick with their same leadership (Speaker Melissa Hortman, Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in the House; Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Minority Leader Susan Kent in the Senate), but between legislative retirements and several competitive races that flipped districts, we’ll see a number of new legislators at the Capitol. In the case of those covering Catholic Charities’ service area, that includes Senators-Elect Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis) and Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), as well as Representatives-Elect Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis), Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis), Athena Hollins (DFL-Minneapolis) and John Thompson (DFL-Minneapolis). Many of these candidates campaigned on affordable housing, criminal justice reform and public safety, and healthcare.
The makeup of the legislature and the issues facing lawmakers sets the stage for a very challenging session. When lawmakers are sworn in on January 5, they’ll immediately face the task of setting the state’s biennial budget with a projected $4.7 billion deficit, while also continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and numerous other issues, like redistricting.
Democrats are likely to look for new sources of revenue and Republicans for ways to curb spending, but they’ll have to put aside partisan politics and work across the aisle in order to pass a balanced budget and avoid a government shutdown. At Catholic Charities, we’ll be working hard to ensure that under-resourced communities, like those experiencing homelessness and housing instability, are prioritized as these tough decisions are made. (Watch for more on our legislative priorities in the coming weeks!)
Your Voice Still Matters
Election Day is over, but your voice is still important. We encourage you to build relationships with your lawmakers and share your experiences and expertise to help advocate for justice in your community. Remember – regardless of whether your chosen candidates won, your elected officials are there to represent YOU.
You can find all the results of Minnesota’s November election here. As state and federal lawmakers are sworn in next year, be sure to check who represents you and how to contact them. Many are active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, too!
And don’t forget to sign up for Catholic Charities’ action alerts! It only takes a moment, and we’ll keep you posted on our advocacy work and critical pieces of legislation we’re tracking throughout the year.
We’ll see you out there!
As a member of the Social Justice Advocacy & Engagement team, I lead the strategic development and execution of Catholic Charities’ public policy agenda. My work covers local, state and federal levels, advocating for policies and programs that promote justice in the community.