Voters in Minnesota will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in Republican primaries and a string of state and local elections.
The most high-profile race involves Tea Party Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Bachmann faces a lukewarm threat from Aubrey Immelman, a psychology professor, and Stephen Thompson, a computer consultant.
Immelman and Thompson both call their candidacies referendums on Bachmann. As the St. Cloud Times reports, with Bachmann as widely known and well-funded as ever, it would stun the political world if she encounters more than a speed bump in the primary.
Primary voters in 40 legislative districts will also decide who will take part in a big November struggle for control of the Minnesota legislature.
As the Associated Press reports, among the most-watched races were three in the western Twin Cities suburbs where Republican incumbents faced challenges from the right. A wave of retirements left 19 open seats with contested primaries, including free-for-alls featuring multiple Democrats and Republicans in House districts in Moorhead, Mora and on the Iron Range. And in races from Andover to New Hope and Princeton, primary voters of both parties were picking opponents for incumbent lawmakers.
Democrats are aiming to overturn Republican rule of both legislative chambers in November. A turnover would require a net loss of four Republican-held seats in the Senate or six in the House. Democrats had the majorities until two years ago, when Mark Dayton became the first Democrat elected governor in a quarter-century.
Statewide turnout was expected to be low. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has predicted less than 15 percent of eligible voters will participate.
Polls close at 9 p.m. EDT.
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9:40 p.m. A quick look at District 2:
9:28 p.m. Bachmann Will Win, Easily: Well, if it wasn't obvious before, Bachmann looks with win this GOP primary handily.
9:25 p.m. The Minnesota congeressional districts:
9:20 p.m. A quick update from patch.com, covering the race in Northfield: As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, Rice County had 34,739 registered voters. Of those, 11,485 of the voters call Northfield home. Another 735 Northfielders who live in the Dakota County precinct of the city were registered to vote by 7 a.m. today. These totals do not include those who registered at polling locations today.
9:05 p.m. Polls are now closed in the state.
8:50 p.m. A slow day in Minnesota: Candidates made last-minute pushes to try to encourage their supporters to vote in Minnesota's primary election Tuesday as low turnout made outcomes hard to predict in key races.
In the state's most closely watched races, three Democrats were vying to challenge first-term GOP U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in northeastern Minnesota's 8th District, while two Republicans sought the nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in southern Minnesota's 1st District.
There were no marquee statewide races. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar faced token opposition in her Democratic primary, and Republican Kurt Bills didn't face a major challenger on his side.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicted turnout of less than 15 percent of eligible voters, and without the crowds of November, things were going smoothly around the state.
5:30 p.m. A look at the Minnesota state political scene, courtesy of PM Politics Analyst John Doble:
Minnesota: GOP Basket Case without Money
While some insist on putting Minnesota in the swing-state category since the GOP took over the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years, the local party is in a tailspin that will take years to recover from. The current legislative session has been one of the most combative and least productive in years, causing a temporary government shut down and dissatisfaction with the incumbents. The GOP leadership was decapitated last December after the House Speaker was caught having an affair with one of her staffers – who just so happened to lead the party’s communication efforts and is now suing for reimbursement and threatens to out every other legislator and staffer in the statehouse who has had an affair – causing both to resign. The Party Chairman was also forced to resign after accounting problems were discovered that left the party $2 million in debt, not including fines, which to the GOP’s further embarrassment almost saw it evicted from their headquarters after they couldn’t make the rent. The loss of the party’s A-team, combined with internal struggles between the establishment, Ron Paul supporters, and social conservatives like Michelle Bachmann (or Allen Quist, her mentor) will limit its performance. Conversely, the Democratic Party is comparatively problem-free. Senator Amy Klobuchar is a shoo-in for reelection, and Governor Mark Dayton, once rated one of the nation’s five worst Senators, has proven to be a surprisingly effective and popular leader. Even if former governor Tim Pawlenty is nominated as Romney’s vice president, the question is not if the GOP will lose Minnesota, but how badly.