In SD 15, four-term Republican Sen. Dave Kleis's seat is up for election, after Sen. Kleis won his election for mayor of the Granite City. In HD 15B, DFL Rep. Joe Opatz's seat is up for election after he accepted a position as interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Candidates have until this week to file for these seats. The election will be held on Tuesday, December 27.
It will be interesting to see whether Republican activists in the area, and the Senate Republican Caucus, and the Republican Party of Minnesota, and Governor Pawlenty find the prospect of losing yet another seat in the Senate to the DFL serious enough to put holiday celebrations on hold, execute their ground game, and WIN. It would be fun to get some coverage of the race from some Saint Cloud area bloggers.
On the House side, there's an opportunity to add one seat to the Republican majority.
The Republican Party of Minnesota seems more engaged this time around. In a fundraising e-mail to Republicans, chairman Ron Carey said,
The DFL and liberal 527s are already working hard to defeat us in these special elections. If the special election in Senate District 43 last week is any indication, these groups will stop at nothing to win. Just like in 2004, the 527s are out door knocking and misleading Minnesota voters.
[Well, perhaps, but four words: "twenty percent voter turnout." —Ed.]
That’s why we need your help right now. Our staff is mobilized and working hard for our Republican candidates. Door to door campaign workers are out knocking on doors and identifying new Republicans. Field staff are organizing phone banks and literature drops.
Our victory in the St. Cloud mayoral election was a great example of what a fully funded Republican Party can do. We took out a popular Democrat Incumbent mayor. This is the first time in 25 years that an incumbent mayor lost in St. Cloud. We did this by identifying voters, targeting our message and getting Republicans out to vote. We need to do the same things again in these special elections.
Good luck, Saint Cloud Republicans. All politics is local, so only you know how to win your elections. May you find a way to build on the momentum of the Kleis mayoral victory to keep his Senate seat in the Republican caucus, and win one back in the House. (Hint for vacationing SD 15 voters: vote absentee before you leave town!!)