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Morrison Resigns, Creating Special Election for Minnesota Senate

 June 9, 2024

State Sen. Kelly Morrison has announced her resignation from the Minnesota Senate, shifting her focus entirely to her congressional campaign, and triggering a special election that could significantly impact the fragile Democratic majority.

This departure decision comes at a critical time for the Minnesota Senate, as it faces potential further instability with pressure mounting on Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign amid an ongoing felony burglary case, as Axios reports.

Morrison's Resignation Triggers Special Election

On Thursday, Morrison of the DFL announced her resignation from the state's upper legislative chamber. Morrison is redirecting her efforts towards her congressional campaign for the west metro district. This resignation will necessitate a special election in November.

Morrison's departure places the Democrats' one-seat Senate majority at risk. All 134 seats in the DFL-led House are already on the general election ballot, adding to the electoral pressure on the party.

Although not mandated to resign, Morrison chose to step down by the Saturday deadline to avoid the need for a later one-off special election. This strategic move is intended to streamline the electoral process and save taxpayer money.

Impact on Democratic Majority

Morrison, a frontrunner for the seat left vacant by U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips following his failed presidential bid, won her district by about 12 percentage points in 2022. Her resignation could shift the balance of power in the Senate, where Democrats hold a precarious majority.

Former DFL Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart has announced her candidacy for Morrison’s vacated seat. Kathleen Fowke, the 2022 Republican nominee, is also considered a potential contender, setting the stage for a closely watched special election.

Morrison explained her decision, emphasizing the benefits of her timing: "The timing will save taxpayers the cost of a special election and allow voters to more easily participate in choosing a new senator."

Potential Resignation of Sen. Nicole Mitchell

Compounding the Senate's instability, some DFL senators are urging Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign due to her ongoing felony burglary case. Sen. Heather Gustafson highlighted the risk of losing the majority through internal conflicts, stating, "It's entirely one thing to lose your majority in an election. It's another thing to lose your majority by self-sabotage."

Mitchell has denied allegations of theft, and her attorney did not comment on Thursday. The pressure on her to step down adds another layer of complexity to the Senate's current situation.

Four other DFL senators have defended Mitchell’s right to remain in office, arguing that she should be allowed to address her legal issues without being forced out of her position prematurely.

Election Stakes and Potential Outcomes

The special election for Morrison’s seat, along with the potential resignation of Mitchell, could lead to a deadlock in the Senate. This scenario underscores the fragile nature of the current Democratic majority and the high stakes of the upcoming elections.

The outcome of the special election will be crucial in determining whether the Democrats can maintain their slim majority or if Republicans will gain a critical seat. The broader implications for state politics are significant, given the DFL-led House and the importance of maintaining legislative control.

As the special election approaches, all eyes will be on the candidates vying for Morrison’s seat and the potential shifts in the Senate’s composition. The political landscape in Minnesota is poised for a period of heightened activity and uncertainty.


State Sen. Kelly Morrison’s resignation from the Minnesota Senate to focus on her congressional campaign has triggered a special election in November, placing the Democrats' one-seat majority at risk. Morrison's strategic timing aims to streamline the electoral process and save taxpayer money.

Former DFL Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart and potential Republican contender Kathleen Fowke are expected to compete for the vacant seat.

Concurrently, pressure mounts on Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign amid an ongoing felony burglary case, further complicating the Senate’s stability. The outcome of these events will significantly impact the balance of power in Minnesota’s legislative landscape.