Now it gets real.
Although many candidates running for election this fall have been campaigning for months, Tuesday, May 22, marks the official beginning of the election season.
On that day, candidates can begin filing with the secretary of state or local officials for positions up for election this fall.
The early filing period, which ends June 5, is for races that conduct primaries if necessary. Primary election day is Aug. 14. A later filing period opens July 31 for offices, such as St. Joseph City Council and mayor, which don’t conduct primaries.
With the election almost six months away, it may be hard to focus on voting. But voters should start examining candidates now.
Midterm elections usually suffer from lower voter turnout than when the presidency is on the ballot. In Minnesota, however, the non-presidential years can be just as significant because state offices such as governor are on the ballot. In 2018, this is even truer than usual.
Minnesotans will elect a new governor and lieutenant governor. Other constitutional officers, such as auditor and secretary of state are also on the ballot.
Both U.S. Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and all eight of the House of Representatives seats will be up as well. Unexpected events put more offices in play this year. Al Franken’s resignation forced an election for his Senate seat, which wouldn’t have been up for a vote until 2020. Rep. Tim Walz is running for governor so his First District seat, covering southern Minnesota, will be open. In northeastern Minnesota, Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolen is retiring. Both men are Democrats.
Closer to home, Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Ian Todd.
In the Minnesota Legislature, no state Senate seats are up for election this year. All House seats will stand for election. In District 13A, DFLer Jim Read is challenging incumbent Republican Jeff Howe. In District 13B, Democrat Heidi Everett is challenging incumbent Republican Tim O’Driscoll.
In Stearns County, we’ll be electing a new sheriff for the first time in 16 years. Three men have announced plans to run, which means there will be a primary. Other countywide officials, such as attorney, auditor-treasurer and recorder, are on the ballot. Second District Commissioner Joe Perske’s seat is not up this year.
In Sartell, Mayor Sarah Jane Nicoll says she won’t seek another term and two City Council seats are up.
In St. Joseph, voters will elect a mayor and two City Council members.
The Sartell-St. Stephen and St. Cloud school districts have races for board members.
That’s a lot to keep track of for the next few months but it’s important work.
In the 2016 presidential election, 129 million votes were cast. If 36,000 Donald Trump voters instead voted for Hilary Clinton, a different person would be in the White House. That breaks down to less than three voters in each precinct across Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania switching sides.
Every vote counts and elections have consequences.