The Latest: Ellison elected AG, surviving abuse allegation

Published 11-07-2018

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Latest on Minnesota's midterm election (all times local):

11:25 p.m.

Rep. Keith Ellison has been elected Minnesota attorney general, surviving an ex-girlfriend's accusation of domestic abuse.

Ellison defeated Republican Doug Wardlow for an office that threatened to swing to Republicans for the first time in nearly half a century.

Ellison rose to national prominence as the first Muslim elected to Congress and last year became deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He talked of using the attorney general's office to resist President Donald Trump's agenda.

Then his ex-girlfriend accused him of dragging her off a bed during an argument in 2016. Ellison repeatedly denied her allegations, but they helped make the race close, even though Wardlow was a virtual unknown.

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11:25 p.m.

Republicans have won a high-stakes special election to keep control of the Minnesota Senate.

GOP state Rep. Jeff Howe beat Democrat Joe Perske, a county commissioner, on Tuesday. Howe's victory preserves Republicans' 34-33 majority.

The district surrounding St. Cloud is considered safely GOP but Democrats pounced on a chance to retake

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11:25 p.m.

Republicans have won a high-stakes special election to keep control of the Minnesota Senate.

GOP state Rep. Jeff Howe beat Democrat Joe Perske, a county commissioner, on Tuesday. Howe's victory preserves Republicans' 34-33 majority.

The district surrounding St. Cloud is considered safely GOP but Democrats pounced on a chance to retake control of the chamber. The Senate was left deadlocked at 33-33 after Republican Sen. Michelle Fischbach vacated her seat to be sworn in as lieutenant governor.

Both candidates played up their experience in the area as outside political groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in to influence the race. Howe has represented half the district in the House.

Perske was also former mayor of Sartell.

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10:55 p.m.

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt has conced

Republicans have won a high-stakes special election to keep control of the Minnesota Senate.

GOP state Rep. Jeff Howe beat Democrat Joe Perske, a county commissioner, on Tuesday. Howe's victory preserves Republicans' 34-33 majority.

The district surrounding St. Cloud is considered safely GOP but Democrats pounced on a chance to retake control of the chamber. The Senate was left deadlocked at 33-33 after Republican Sen. Michelle Fischbach vacated her seat to be sworn in as lieutenant governor.

Both candidates played up their experience in the area as outside political groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in to influence the race. Howe has represented half the district in the House.

Perske was also former mayor of Sartell.

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10:55 p.m.

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt has conceded that Democrats will take back control of the chamber.

Daudt told The Associated Press that Republicans will lose the majority after Democrats flipped more than a dozen suburban districts. Democrats needed to win 11 districts to win back control of the chamber for the first time since 2014.

High turnout in the Minneapolis area and surrounding suburbs helped power Democrats up and down the ballot to victory. Democratic candidate Tim Walz also won Tuesday's race for governor.

The final margin of Democrats' majority in the House wasn't immediately clear as votes are still being counted. And Democrats could retake the state Senate with a special election in the narrowly divided chamber.

10:35 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith says she's humbled by the Minnesota voters who elected her to fill out former Sen. Al Franken's term.

Smith defeated Republican state Sen. Karin Housley in Tuesday's special election. The race was triggered by Franken's resignation in January amid a growing sexual misconduct scandal.

Smith told supporters at a Democratic-Farmer-Labor gathering Tuesday night that she's anxious to get back to work in the U.S. Senate. She's held the seat since Gov. Mark Dayton appointed her in January.

Smith would have to face voters again in 2020 if she runs for re-election.

10:10 p.m.

Tim Walz says his election as Minnesota's governor and high voter turnout is proof that the state's "can-do spirit" is alive and well.

Walz defeated second-time Republican candidate Jeff Johnson on Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton chose not to run for a third term.

Walz was the favorite throughout the race, but his victory was still unusual. It marks the first time one of Minnesota's political parties has held on to the office for three or more terms since the 1950s.

Walz campaigned on expanding the state's low-income health care program to have a public option and increasing education funding. He said his victory was a sign that Minnesota residents want to see those policies enacted.

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9:58 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith has won Minnesota's special election to finish the final two years of former Sen. Al Franken's term.

Smith defeated Republican state Sen. Karin Housley on Tuesday. The election was a 10-month sprint, triggered in January after Franken resigned amid a growing sexual misconduct scandal.

Smith got a head start in the race when she was appointed to take the seat by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Smith was Dayton's lieutenant governor and former top aide.

Housley tried to brand Smith as a political insider. But national Republican groups largely bypassed Housley's race, sinking resources instead into more winnable races in states like North Dakota and Wisconsin.

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9:49 p.m.

Rep. Tim Walz has won Minnesota's open race for governor, keeping Democrats' hold on the state's top office.

Walz defeated second-time Republican candidate Jeff Johnson. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton chose not to run for a third term.

Walz was ahead in public polling throughout the race, but his victory was still unusual. It marks the first time one of Minnesota's political parties has held on to the office for three or more terms since the 1950s.

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner who ran against Dayton in 2014, struggled to gain ground against Walz after surpassing former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the August primary.

Walz spent six terms representing a Republican-leaning congressional district in southern Minnesota.

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9:20 p.m.

Keith Ellison has taken an early lead in Minnesota's attorney general race, but he trails some other Democrats in statewide races.

Ellison gave up a safe seat in Congress to seek the post, and he should have been a heavy favorite in a state that has not elected a Republican attorney general in half a century. But an ex-girlfriend's domestic abuse accusation - which he strongly denied - left him in a close and bitter race with Republican Doug Wardlow.

The seat opened abruptly in June when incumbent Lori Swanson launched a late bid for governor. Soon after that, ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan accused Ellison of dragging her off a bed.

Ellison has been a national political figure since 2006, when he became the first Muslim elected to Congress.

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8:57 p.m.

Democratic businessman Dean Phillips has defeated Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in a suburban Minnesota district that figures heavily into Democrats' hopes for a House takeover.

Paulsen had easily won elections throughout his five terms in office even as the Minneapolis-area district trended toward Democrats.

But the district favored Hillary Clinton by nearly 10 points two years ago, and a statewide poll late in the race showed Phillips with a comfortable lead. Outside groups poured more than $10 million into the battleground race.

Phillips ran his family's liquor company and started a chain of local coffee shops. He painted Paulsen as too in step with President Donald Trump, though Paulsen tried to distance himself from the president.

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8:39 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has easily won a third term in Minnesota.

Klobuchar defeated Republican state Rep. Jim Newberger on Tuesday. It comes as Klobuchar's name swirls amid the crop of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 2020.

The race was never close. Newberger is a little-known state lawmaker who struggled to raise money against the popular Klobuchar.

Republicans put far more focus on the state's other Senate race to complete the last two years of Al Franken's term. State Sen. Karin Housley carried the party's hopes in that race against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith.

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8:35 p.m.

State Rep. Ilhan Omar has won Minnesota's 5th District race to become the first Somali-American and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Omar will succeed U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who gave up the safe seat in a heavily Democratic Minneapolis-area district to run for state attorney general. Ellison himself was the first Muslim elected to Congress more than a decade ago.

Omar defeated Republican activist Jennifer Zielinski.

Omar says she'll vote to impeach President Donald Trump if given the chance. She was dogged during the campaign by allegations first raised by conservative media two years ago that she married her brother and committed immigration fraud. She denounced those claims as "disgusting lies."

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8 p.m.

Polls have closed in Minnesota, where voter turnout in the midterm election was reported to be strong.

Secretary of State spokesman Ben Petok says that as of Tuesday morning, elections officials had received nearly 615,000 absentee and mail-in ballots. That's close to the more than 650,000 early ballots received for the presidential election two years ago.

Joe Mansky is elections manager in Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul. He visited some polling places and reported that turnout was good.

Few technical glitches have been reported, though there was some confusion about rules.

Councilwoman Fran Holmes in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills says she was told to remove her campaign button when she voted, even though she thought a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed it.

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5 p.m.

A councilwoman in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills says she was told to remove her campaign button when she voted.

Fran Holmes is running for re-election to her nonpartisan post.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court said Minnesota's broad restrictions on wearing political hats, T-shirts and pins to the polls were unconstitutional, but that states could still limit such items.

The Legislature hasn't met since Minnesota's law was struck down, so a new law on political clothing hasn't been enacted.

Secretary of State Steve Simon issued guidance that barred campaign paraphernalia of candidates, slogans or issues that are on the ballot. But Secretary of State spokesman Ben Petok says if someone refuses to remove banned paraphernalia, he or she must still be allowed to vote.

In Holmes' case, she took off her pin and voted. But she said she's troubled that Simon put out instructions without a law created by the Legislature.

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4 p.m.

Some Minnesota voters say their opposition to Republican President Donald Trump brought them out to vote in Tuesday's midterm elections.

Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Roth of Minnetonka says Trump is "making a lot of these wrong decisions," and she wants to see the U.S. House flip to Democratic control.

Roth, a liberal Democrat, says she thinks Congress needs to do more to oppose Trump. She says she voted a straight-line blue ticket on Tuesday.

Another Minnetonka voter, Phillip Baum, describes himself as a moderate conservative who leans Republican. Baum is a general contractor and says the economy is the most important issue to him. He owns his own business and says he never wants to go through another Great Recession.

Baum says he would like to see more compromise in Congress. He feels both sides are "too stubborn, bullheaded and there's no compromise."

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3:40 p.m.

Voter turnout is strong in Minnesota's largest city for Tuesday's midterm elections.

Minneapolis estimates nearly 70,000 voters have cast their ballots as of noon. The total is based on unofficial tabulator counts from 95 percent of all precincts. That means about 28 percent of all registered Minneapolis voters showed up to vote Tuesday morning.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 51,000 Minneapolis voters cast early ballots. That number is expected to climb as additional absentee ballots arrive by mail.

Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky says turnout also is good in his metro county. Mansky says he visited some polling places Tuesday morning, and the judges all reported high turnout, with a line of voters waiting for one polling place to open.

Mansky says absentee voting in Ramsey County through Tuesday morning was over 60,000. That compares with 64,000 during the presidential election two years ago.

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12:20 p.m.

Minnesota elections officials are anticipating a high voter turnout for Tuesday's midterm elections.

Minnesota Secretary of State spokesman Ben Petok says as of Tuesday morning, elections officials had received nearly 615,000 absentee and mail-in ballots. That's close to the more than 650,000 absentee and mail-in ballots received for the presidential election two years ago.

Petok says he has not heard of any major voting glitches. He says one precinct in Anoka County had problems starting up e-poll books, but quickly switched to a paper roster for signing in voters. Polls in Minnesota are open until 8 p.m.

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7 a.m.

Voters were lined up as the polls opened in Minnesota on this Election Day.

Light rain didn't seem to dampen voters' enthusiasm at a community center in Minnetonka, a suburb west of Minneapolis Tuesday where about 15 people were lined up to vote as the three polling places opened.

There is much at stake for this midterm election in Minnesota, including an open race for governor, two U.S. Senate seats, a hotly contested race for attorney general, several congressional races and control of the Legislature.

Polls close at 8 p.m. But, if you're in line at 8 p.m. and haven't voted, you can still mark your ballot.

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6:10 a.m.

The seemingly unending campaign pitches and barrage of political advertising all comes down to the voters on this Election Day.

Polls open across Minnesota at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. It's too soon to tell what impact the overcast skies, light rain and snow showers will have on voter turnout.

Election officials are expecting presidential-level turnout after the August primary drew the highest primary turnout since 1994.

Hundreds of thousands of voters have already marked their ballots. Election officials say nearly 540,000 Minnesotans have cast early votes since September when the window opened. That nearly matches the early general election turnout in 2016.

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