A Democratic state with a large history of Republican governors

By Amber Ooley

History Overview:

Our first governor of Minnesota was Henry H. Sibley. Sibley was in office from 1858 to 1860 and stood for the Democratic Party. The state's first governor began his long, colorful career in Minnesota as a fur trader even before the area was opened to white settlement. During almost six decades, Sibley played a vital role in the expansion and settlement of the northwest frontier, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Minnesota continued with Republican governors for almost 40 years until another Democratic governor was elected.

Starting in 1899 there was a pattern for the next five terms. By 1915 every other year the terms were served by three Democrat governors and two Republican governors.

From 1931 to 1939 three terms were served by three different governors. All three represented the Farmer-Labor party. The Farmer-Labor Party was established in 1918 due to the economic imbalance caused by American entry into World War I. The Farmer-Labor party was composed of farmers and workers in a social democracy.

The first Independence Party governor elected was Jesse Ventura, serving from 1999 until 2003. Ventura's politics were framed by fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. During his administration, Ventura sent out a tax-free check to Minnesotans, because he believed the money should be given back to the public.

Following Ventura, Minnesota elected yet another Republican, Tim Pawlenty. Under Gov. Pawlenty's leadership, Minnesota leads the nation in a variety of measures.  Minnesota ranks first among states in Fortune 500 companies per capita, first in overall quality of life, first in home ownership, first in percentage of residents with a high school diploma, and first in residents over 25 with a bachelors degree.  Minnesota has the highest average ACT scores in the nation and is among the "Healthiest States in America," according to Pawlenty’s website.

MN is a Democratic State:

The Smart Politics blog conducted an analysis of state and federal officeholders across the 12-state Midwest region finds Minnesota as the most democratic-friendly, despite failing to elect a democrat to lead its state in nearly 25 years. No Midwestern state has elected a higher percentage of democrats to state and federal office than Minnesota, with two-thirds of such offices currently occupied by DFLers.

Minnesotans have elected a Republican governor during every GOP wave election dating back nearly 100 years to 1916.

Number of voters:

Minnesota’s turnout rates in the midterm elections have been close in numbers to the national rate in the presidential elections. However, only about 3 in 5 eligible residents vote during midterm elections. The highest percent of the population to vote was recently, in 2002 at 64.9 percent of Minnesota's population.

“A review of public opinion polls finds that survey organizations are releasing data suggesting a much higher projected turnout,” Eric Ostermeier wrote on the Smart Politics blog.

The Smart Politics blog is the blog created by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.Smart Politics provides information and non-partisan analysis of public policy and statewide and district elections for Upper Midwestern and national politics.

The impact of the Tea Party Movement:

According to the Stateline news, Minn. Republican State Rep. Tom Emmer ran as a Tea Party outsider and cruised to an easy victory in the GOP primary. Emmer is running close in polls with U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and is outpacing independent candidate Tom Horner.

Sarah Palin’s endorsement helped Tea Party candidates win the GOP nominations in Minnesota and South Carolina.

Tea Party Mission Statement: The drive for the Tea Party movement is excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.

Student organizations on campus

Quiz: You be the governor