Democrats in Minnesota look set to become even more leftwing

So far, the Democrats being challenged from the left are Ray Dehn (district 59B), Tim Mahoney (district 67A), Alice Hausman (district 66A), John Lesch (district 66B) and Jean Wagenius (district 63B)

Minnesota House DFL

If the leftwing primary challengers to Minnesota House Democrats can pull it off, Minnesota’s group of Democratic representatives look set to become even more leftwing. That’s because MinnPost is reporting that at least 5 current Democrat state reps face primary challenges.

So far, the Democrats being challenged are Ray Dehn (district 59B), Tim Mahoney (district 67A), Alice Hausman (district 66A), John Lesch (district 66B) and Jean Wagenius (district 63B). All are in relatively safe Democratic districts, in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, and it is expected that a more-leftwing Democrat would still easily win in a general election.

The sins of these challenged Democrats aren’t exactly clear. They all voted for radical sex-ed, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, and all strongly oppose any and all abortion restrictions. These Democrats are also in lockstep with the state party on immigration, taxes, gun control, and handouts to fight climate change.

But it’s true that sometimes the differences between the left and the further-left come down to rhetoric and style, and are less due to disputes over policy.

These tensions further highlight a growing war in the Democrat Party, which is also playing out nationally, between the extreme “progressives,” many of which self-identify as socialist, and the establishment of the Democrat Party that still looks to maintain ties with larger businesses. 

So far, the Democratic powers that be are taking a back seat. Instead of supporting her members, House Democrat Majority Leader Melissa Hortman has said that she will stand back and see who wins. But she noted that the outcome won’t matter in the battle for overall Minnesota House control.

That may be wrong. People tend to realize that they aren’t just voting for the person in their district, but for the platform and ideology of the whole. 

And 2020 should be close, especially with the Trump campaign’s emphasis on Minnesota. In 2018’s federal midterm election, Republicans lost 19 seats to the Democrats in Minnesota’s House of Representatives. But the GOP needs only 9 seats in 2020 to win the state House back.


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Willis Krumholz

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.