Tina Smith wins contested senate seat

Smith will join Klobuchar in a Senate that gained a stronger Republican control on election night.

<p>Tina Smith hugs a supporter during the DFL election party in Saint Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 6.</p>

Will Tooke

Tina Smith hugs a supporter during the DFL election party in Saint Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

MN Daily Staff

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., won Minnesota’s special Senate election on Tuesday, reaffirming Democrat control of both Senate seats.

Smith defeated Republican candidate Rep. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, on election night, and will join Minnesota’s other senator, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whose re-election race was called early Tuesday night.

“Minnesotans tell me they want Washington to get to work and to work for us. You are tired of the games and the politics of blame,” Smith said in a speech after her victory was called Tuesday night. “I am grateful to everyone in Minnesota who has put their faith in me.”

The special election follows the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken in 2017 after allegations of groping and sexual misconduct. Smith previously served as an executive for Planned Parenthood. For the past three years, she served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Mark Dayton before assuming the role of interim senator.

The DFL’s effort to mobilize young voters played a role in their success in retaining the Senate and other offices in the state, said Jen Aulwes from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“We spent about $2 million in the state in order to reach young voters,” Aulwes said. “Those are the folks that are really going to make a difference in a non-presidential year.”

Aulwes said that Planned Parenthood in Minnesota invested more into the senate elections than in any other election.

“If she were elected tonight to her Senate seat, she would be in recent history possibly the first Planned Parenthood [alumna] to be elected to the U.S. Senate,” Aulwey said.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar won her third U.S. Senate term Tuesday, defeating State Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker.

She was first elected into the Senate in 2006, after serving as the Hennepin County Attorney. Klobuchar was also the first elected female U.S. senator from Minnesota, and serves on several Senate committees including the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Klobuchar and Smith will return to a U.S. Senate that gained stronger Republican control on Election Day.

Some who came to the Minnesota DFL election night party expressed support for Klobuchar.

Karen Hannah, who came to the party dressed as a suffragette, said she approved of Klobuchar’s questioning of Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate in September.

“She questioned him right on,” she said.

Mary Markwardt, who also attended the DFL party, said she doesn’t want Klobuchar to run for U.S. president in 2020 because she is an asset to the Senate.

“We need our senator … she’s just too hard to lose. She has a strong voice,” she said.

Maraya King, Michelle Griffith, Nikki Pederson, Caitlin Anderson, Megan Palmer and Lew Blank contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Jen Aulwes’ name. The DFL’s effort to mobilize young voters played a role in their success in retaining the Senate and other offices in the state, said Jen Aulwes from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.