Under steady drizzle, Minnesota voters line up to have their say
Months of candidates and campaigns, debates and advertisements culminated Tuesday as voters across the state turned out to cast their ballots with a mix of enthusiasm, anxiety and frustration.
Early on, Minnesotans realized the gravity of an election that will determine who holds key state and national offices, from the governors office, to both U.S. senators, several congressional races, and control of the state Legislature. According to the Secretary of States office, 614,895 Minnesotans voted early, slightly behind the early general election total in 2016. In a state that led the nation in voter turnout that year, another strong showing is expected.
In Lino Lakes, Republican voter Mark Marion said he is feeling anxious today worried his party will not do well here in Minnesota or nationally. He said he has seen the Fox News polls. It seems like we will lose the U.S. House and the Senate is a coin flip.
Marion said this years negative campaign ads left a bad taste in his mouth.
Its such a huge waste. I just hate everyone talking about everyone else and not themselves, Marion said.
Fatima Diallo, 31, lives in St. Paul and works at Wells Fargo. After becoming a citizen in 2015, she said, 2016 was her first election and she voted Tuesday because of President Donald Trump.
I am an immigrant child, I am a black woman plus Im a woman also and I am a Muslim, she said. He doesnt care about people like me.
Diallo said shes excited about Amy Klobuchar and Keith Ellison, and voted a straight DFL ticket.
I think they will fight for people like me, and they will do better for Minnesota, she said.
Voters leaving Apple Valleys Greenleaf Elementary said the U.S. House of Representatives race, which pits Angie Craig vs. Rep. Jason Lewis, was among the most important to them.
Rachel Clubb, 33, said she voted for Craig because we have a lot of the same values. Clubb, an Eagan salesperson, mentioned education and the states future as important.
I like that shes right in the middle, Clubb said. Thats what I am.
Raylene Streed, 69, of Woodbury, voted for Jeff Johnson for governor.
I support his values, his stance on the economy and the fact he is pro-life, said Streed, who leads a nonprofit. She said the ideas of his democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, seem regarding healthcare seem unrealistic, Streed said.
We need solutions but not pie in the sky solutions like Walz has, she said.
Matt Pram and Val Castillo and their two young daughters were lined up when the polls opened at 7 a.m. to vote at their precinct in Lino Lakes. The couple leans liberal and said they showed up with a mix of emotions: anxious, angry, optimistic.
We are definitely hoping for some change. We see things that are concerning to us as citizens, Pram said.
Pram said he is concerned about the tone this election worried about the racism and angry sentiments its evoking across the country.
Its been more explicit this year, Pram, a former high school civics teacher, said as his daughters Mae, 6, and Amelia, 3, nibbled cookies.
Several families visited the precinct at a steady clip, with their children in tow before heading to work. Voter Rhonda Steffes was among them, although she admitted she lacked enthusiasm.
I am slightly above indifferent, Steffes said. I Just feel like I need to do my civic duty.
Voters gathered at Destiny Church in Burnsville to cast their ballots. Several voters said they dont follow party lines when voting.
Our state is going to pot, said Sharon Kasat, 75, if Burnsville. All they do is raise taxes.
Kasat said she is still working as a cashier at 75. Some elected officials dont care about older adults and their needs, she said.
We used to be Democrat but were not voting one Democrat this year thats how upset we are.
Chuck Chaika, 65, of Burnsville said hes interested in the Senate races and wants to see U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Karin Housley win. Hes mostly a Democrat, he said, but likes Housley, the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, because of her husband, Phil.
Chaika said hes a hockey fan and went to South St. Paul schools like Phil Housley. I really like their family, he said.
On the other hand, he supports Klobuchar because of her pro-union stance. Shes backing our Teamster union and pension, which is falling apart, said Chaika, who is retired but moonlights as a DJ and private bus driver.
Lino Lakes voter Doug Drabek said he is liberal leaning and he supports the waves of women candidates this election.
Men screwed up this country. Lets give women a chance, Drabek said.
As he cast his ballot with his wife at the National Sports Center in Blaine, retired business owner Max Miller said he voted almost all Republican. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar was his one lone vote for a Democrat. He said the issue at the top of mind was partisan politics.
They need to be able to work with the opposing party without being rude or restrictive, Miller said, adding that he also supports efforts to control the countrys borders, but that Trumps bombastic style is hurting the party.
I think we should abide by our laws but I dont think we should be inhumane.
Shoreview voter Mary Hansen said too is nervous. She would like to see Democrats take control of Congress.
I am very concerned about the way the country is going, the morale and the separation, she said. This is a very important election.
She said she would like to see more bipartisan efforts in all levels of government and an end to extreme, hostile partisanship.
I do believe there is a happy medium, said Hansen, a retired manufacturing manager at a medical device company.
Cheryl Rude, 57, is a nurse who lives on the East Side of St. Paul. She said she was excited to see how many women ran for office this year, but in general was fed up with the amount of negative campaigning.
This year especially, its been the negativity. You didnt hear a lot of positive anything, she said. It was this person did this, and this person did that, and its like, you know what? Were all human. And some of it is false anyway.
Though Rude said she leans Democratic and voted mostly for DFLers on Tuesday, she voted for Jeff Johnson for governor, adding that shes not against a Republican if theyre doing the things I believe in.
Shoreview physician Steven Voss describes himself as politically neutral but said he voted mostly Democrat this election because of concerns around health care and gun control.
I dont think its about which party is dominating. There needs to be cooperation among the 2 parties to do what is best for the people of the United States, he said.
Yamile Gonzales, a 30-year-old who lives in Woodbury and works as a general manager for a land service company, said shes worried about hateful rhetoric surrounding politics.
I really hope we can come together and talk like civilized people no matter what the results are, she said.
Terri Anderson, a 57-year-old nurse who recently moved to St. Paul from Carver, Minn., said she votes on issues rather than down the party line. When she votes, she said, she thinks about her children and about issues including healthcare, immigration and gay rights.
I voted straight Democrat because I want change, she said. And I so wish that we had this push for our presidential election [in 2016].
In Maple Grove, negative advertising leading up to the election had its own impact.
Retiree Bob Kennedy, 66, sent his own message as a voter.
Ive been traditionally Republican, but I cant stand the negative ads, he said. So I voted third party as a protest.
Bill Lambert, 52, a firefighter from Maple Grove, voted for Democrats Dean Phillips for Congress, and Tim Walz for governor, motivated in part for his dislike of negative advertising.
The outside money pouring in disgusted me, he said. When those ads come on the TV at the fire station, the TV gets muted quick, and we have quite a gamut of [political] views.
Fred Hunt, 81, a retired dairy farmer from Maple Grove, said 2016s outcome inspired his vote.
Last time I voted Republican and I got stuck with Trump, he said. Ill never do that again.
Jessica Sibet, 28, of Maple Grove said she usually doesnt vote in midterm elections. But this year, a door-to-door canvasser got her interested in the Hennepin County sheriffs race, where she voted for challenger Dave Hutch over Sheriff Rich Stanek.
Sibet, a nanny, also was influenced by a video she saw online pointing out that older people vote in much higher numbers than younger people.
So I wanted to vote, because Im going to be around a while, she said.
Kevin Vale, 63, is a retired St. Paul resident who voted downtown. He said the blue wave brought him out to vote.
I always vote, but this year especially, he said.
Of all the candidates on the ballot, Vale said hes particularly excited about Tim Walz.
I just like him, he said. From the minute I heard him speak. I know he was a teacher, hes got a family hes been there.
A steady stream of voters filed into Mount Calvary Educational Building in Richfield Tuesday morning, filing the small voting area in the basement. William Clark, 48, a software engineer, said he voted strictly for a Democratic ticket. Kathy Petersen, 64. did the same except in the governors race. She watched one of the governors debates and decided Jeff Johnson had a better plan for fixing a broken medical and healthcare industry.
For Chad Dorow, getting out to this years midterm election was important to get the blue wave going. The 40-year-old salesman said he would have voted in the midterm election under any circumstances.
About a mile away at Central School in Richfield, Trump supporter Royce Quinby said he is seeing too much corruption in government and its hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys. He voted Republican, but its getting harder to get to the truth in politics.
I dont know if people know what the definition of truth is, said Quinby, 79, who works as a church consultant and Uber driver. But you have to vote and do something.
Staff writers John Reinan, Mara Klecker, Emma Nelson, David Chanen and Erin Adler contributed to this report.
Shannon Prather 612-673-4804