Big change could come to the Iron Range in this midterm election

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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HIBBING, MN -- With a little under a month until the 2022 midterm elections, some pundits speculate the Iron Range could see more red voters than ever before.

“We think that this year is likely the year that republicans win every seat on the Range, I think that is probably going to happen,” said Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in an interview with Northern News Now last week.

In 2020, the region saw a big shift toward republican candidates and the democrats who did win in 2020 didn’t win by nearly as much.

Aaron Brown, a long-time Iron Range political analyst and author said it’s not as cut and dry as some are making it out to be; however, he believes many of the races this election season up on the range could see a bit of a shakeup.

“The DFL could win all of those races, like the old days, but that’s probably the least likely scenario. The fact is, these will probably split up in some way,” Brown said.

In Minnesota’s Senate district 7, DFLer Ben Denucci will face off against Republican Rob Farnsworth.

Brown says the district has been strongly blue for a long time, but this year several factors including a write-in campaign from Kim McLaughlin, a DFL candidate who lost in the August primaries, could make the district more likely to be a toss-up.

“I think that race could tilt DFL, but things could be changing, and like I said other factors could affect that one,” he said.

In Senate District 3, Republican Andrea Zupancich will face DFLer Grant Hauschild.

If there’s a district that’ll flip, Brown believes it’s that one.

The seat was formerly held by DFL-turned-independent Tom Bakk, and with a lot of more rural constituents north of the range, it could end up voting republican.

“It’s not just the range. It’s all of those northern rural parts. That’s probably where Republican Zupancich is hoping to do really well,” he said.

In the Iron Range’s house seats, Brown says there are several incumbents likely to stay in office, but the most likely scenario is the seats split between red and blue.

“Republicans do have a pickup opportunity and Democrats have been playing defense across the Iron Range in these new districts, which are more competitive,” he said.

Whatever the outcome, Brown believes this will be a statement election for the range’s politics.

“The Range has been trying to find its place in this new century. And whether that century is Republican or Democrat, is probably less important than whether or not the region identifies itself with something in the future as opposed to something in the past,” said Brown.

Brown said due to redistricting possibly opening the door to more DFL seats down south, he believes even if all the Range seats were red, the state legislature could still be a toss-up.