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Minnesota Dems keep governor's office, regain House majority


MINNEAPOLIS — Powered by surging turnout in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, Minnesota Democrats held on to the governor's office and unexpectedly swept back into power in the state House.

The jubilance ended in the state Senate, where Republicans clung to a razor-thin majority by winning a special election. That guarantees another year of split-party control at the Capitol in 2019.

Governor-elect Tim Walz and fellow Democrats credited potentially record voter turnout for their victories. More than 2.5 million ballots had been counted by early Wednesday, higher than any recent midterm election or the 2000 presidential election.

"That can-do spirit in Minnesota is alive and well. I can feel it though this," Walz said.

Democratic dominance was seen up and down the ballot, as Sen. Tina Smith easily won the special election to finish former Sen. Al Franken's term, attorney general candidate Keith Ellison won a bruising election and Democrats flipped two prized suburban congressional districts.

Walz, a sixth-term congressman from southern Minnesota, had been considered the favorite over two-time Republican candidate Jeff Johnson to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Better known and better funded, Walz held large leads in public polling throughout the race. The Republican Governors Association eventually abandoned $2.3 million in planned advertising in the race.

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