A dozen lawmakers announce plans to depart as Minnesota House battle looms

A dozen lawmakers announce retirements as Minnesota House battle looms

A dozen lawmakers announce retirements as Minnesota House battle looms

A dozen Minnesota House members have either announced they won’t run for re-election in November or will leave before the next session starts in February. It’s not an unusually high number in an election year, but it does add an element of intrigue in a year when the DFL majority will fight to maintain or grow its four-seat majority.

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“It will be competitive for the Minnesota House of Representatives,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Thursday.

A half-dozen DFL members have announced they won’t run for re-election along with a half-dozen Republicans, which Hortman says is not unusual in an election year.

“It’s very normal that we would hear from people in December and January. That’s the time when people are spending time with their families and solidifying decisions that they’ve been thinking about for a while,” she said.

Most of the seats involved are likely to remain in the same party as the departing lawmaker, but overall Hortman says control of the House will likely come down to more than a dozen competitive seats.

“Probably 10-15 districts that we’ll be focusing in on,” she said. “I’m confident we’ll be able to hold our majority, but it will require a lot of work.”

House Republican Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) says her caucus will focus on highlighting what she views as excessive tax and spending increases in 2023 by the DFL majority.

“Democrats have got to be held accountable for what they passed in this last session,” she told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “You know when you look at an $18 billion surplus gone. You look at an increase in our state budget by another 38%, another $10 billion.”

Hortman says much of the new spending is popular with Minnesotans who will benefit from it. She says DFLers are ready to defend what they passed in 2023.

“Absolutely. We did a number of things that are very popular. We took action on gun violence which Minnesotans have been wanting us to do for a very long time,” she said.

She also cited new protections for abortion access in Minnesota.

Both Hortman and Demuth agree the number of retirement announcements is likely to grow by another half dozen or so. The announcements usually come before precinct caucuses in late February so new candidates have time to launch campaigns.