This is going to be a post specifically about supporting campaigns for Minnesota State Senate candidates. If you live in Minnesota, first of all, you should be aware of the Political Contribution Refund program. This allows you to get a $50 refund if you donate to a legislative race or a political party. (Or races for Governor, State Auditor, Attorney General, or Secretary of State — but those aren’t on the ballot this year.) You donate; they send you a receipt (form EP-3); you fill out a form and send in the form EP-3; the state sends you a check for $50.
Something to bear in mind: the flip side of this is that the campaigns you donate to have to send you that form even for a very small donation. If all you have is $5, then send your favorite candidate $5. But if you have $10, I would strongly encourage you to send it to one candidate and not divide it between two. If you have $20, ditto. If you have $200, then $50 to four different candidates makes more sense. You can also absolutely send donations to the Minnesota Senate DFL Caucus, which will direct funds to candidates in tight races who need them.
One other note: one of the great things about donating to legislative candidates is that if they’re out there campaigning, even if they don’t win, they will help get out the Democratic vote for Joe Biden and Tina Smith. There are Democrats in every part of this state.
On to the specific candidates. These are all candidates for the State Senate who need support, either because they’re Democratic incumbents in vulnerable seats, or Democratic challengers to Republicans in vulnerable seats.
THREE CLOSE RACES WHERE SOME CASH COULD MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
Aric Putnam (SD 14)
Senate District 14 is in St. Cloud. In 2016, the Republican won by less than 200 votes. Aric is a Communications professor at St. John’s/St. Ben’s. His priorities include schools (“the legislature funds our schools like we’re a small town, and we aren’t anymore”), health care, and economic growth. He’s also in favor of marijuana legalization — there’s a “Legal Marijuana Now” candidate on the ballot who’s doing zero campaigning and appears to give not a single shit about the actual race, but filed and is on the ballot. (There was also a third-party candidate on the ballot in 2016, a Libertarian who got over 2,000 votes.) The incumbent opposed the Alex Smith Insulin Affordability Act (until his party leaders told him to vote for it.) Donate to Aric / volunteer for Aric.
Rita Albrecht (SD 5)
SD 5 is near Grand Rapids. The Democrat just barely lost in 2016. Rita is hampered by having two weed candidates on the ballot, one of whom is 100% a Republican who’s deliberately running in the hopes of being a spoiler. Rita supports universal broadband, rural economic development, and a higher minimum wage. She also supports legalizing cannabis, so if that’s an important issue for you, you should absolutely suppose the Democrat who might win over the Republican running as a “legal marijuana” candidate or the perennial weirdo candidate running for “grassroots.” The incumbent, by the way, is this fucking guy (the one in the video, not the person Tweeting — Justin Tweeted that video out but took it down after he got ratioed because OF COURSE HE DID). Donate to Rita / Volunteer for Rita.
Jon Olson (SD 20)
Senate District 20 is south of the metro area and includes Northfield and New Prague. This was a very close race in 2016 (and went for the Democrat in 2012), but like Rita, Jon is hampered by the presence of a Republican running as a “Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis” candidate. Jon Olson is a retired Navy Intelligence Officer who became his father’s caregiver while his father was dying of Alzheimer’s. His Issues pages include a section under the heading “Common-Sense Fairness” that talks about policing reforms, immigration reform, housing, and fair elections. Donate / Volunteer.
LONGER SHOT, BUT POTENTIALLY WINNABLE RACES
Aleta Borrud (SD 26)
Senate District 26 is in Rochester. Aleta Borrud is a doctor who supports universal health care access, police accountability, and pushing back against GOP divisiveness. Her opponent brags about endorsement from a group called “Minnesotans for Affordable Health Insurance,” which I found on Facebook but absolutely nowhere else, so who the hell knows who they are other than “a group, or maybe just one guy, who knows, but WOW do they hate the idea of people with pre-existing conditions doing anything other than just fucking dying.” Donate / Volunteer.
Sara Flick (SD 25)
Senate District 25 is in Rochester. Sara Flick is a farmer’s daughter and a first-generation college graduate. Her priorities include health care, family leave, and data-driven policies. The incumbent is a retired doctor who nonetheless was agitating to end Governor Walz’s emergency orders all the way back in June. Donate to Sara / volunteer for Sara.
Sahra Odowa (SD 55)
SD 55 is in Shakopee. Sahra is Somali-American (she was born in NYC) and works in the mental health field. Sahra’s top issues include racial equity, the environment, and better job opportunities. Donate / Volunteer.
Bonnie Westlin (SD 34)
SD 34 is in Maple Grove and this district went strongly for Tim Walz, despite having been pretty Republican in 2016. Bonnie highlights racial and social justice and police reform as major priorities; her opponent has been a huge roadblock in instituting any accountability for police officers at all. Donate / Volunteer
Ralph Kaehler (SD 21)
Senate District 21 is in southeast Minnesota; Ralph has a map on his website. He’s a 4th-generation farmer and a solar energy entrepreneur. His top three issues are health care, climate, and economic development (especially broadband) in rural Minnesota. You can donate either through ActBlue or PayPal, which is a plus for people who are annoyed by ActBlue. You can also volunteer.
Reed Perkins, SD 1
Reed Perkins e-mailed me to make a case for his race — while the Democrat was trounced rather thoroughly in 2016, this was a blue district as recently as 2012, and he’s working hard to reach out to voters. He’s a former science teacher and a military spouse — his wife is an Air Force officer. One of his first policy points talks about combating disinformation and false Internet rumors about COVID. He has some detailed policies to benefit rural Minnesota, including rural broadband, Right to Repair laws (critically important to small farmers), and the elimination of Daylight Savings Time (I would be fine with DST if we just stayed on it. Or Standard Time if we just stayed on it! Changing our clocks around 2x a year is terrible!) He did a Reddit AMA a while back. Donate here. To volunteer, send an e-mail: perkinsforMN1@gmail.com.
DFL INCUMBENTS WHO NEED SUPPORT
Matt Little, SD 58 (Incumbent)
SD58 is in Lakeville, and Matt won election in 2016 despite his district overall going for Trump. The Republicans would really like to beat him. Matt has a sense of humor and a strikingly good social media presence. Donate / Volunteer.
Susan Kent, SD 53 (Incumbent)
Senate District 53 includes Woodbury, Oakdale, Landfall, and Maplewood. Susan Kent is an incumbent, but held her district very narrowly in 2016 so Republicans are putting a lot of money into her opponent’s campaign. Her opponent was mayor of Woodbury, and has a remarkably content-free website, Facebook, and Twitter; it’s almost like she’d rather just run on anything other than her actual party’s actual platform. Donate / Volunteer.
Lindsey Port, SD 56
Senate District 56 is in the south suburbs (Lakeville, Burnsville, Savage). Lindsey supports protecting the environment, properly funding education and public higher education statewide, and allowing anyone who wants to to buy into MNCare. The incumbent is a homophobic bigot who opposed marriage equality; he also said that legislation requiring that men and women be paid the same amount for the same job would be special privileges for women. Donate / Volunteer.
CANDIDATES WHO NEED VOLUNTEERS (you can certainly donate, but I’ve been told they’re doing OK for cash right now — but would really love more volunteers)
Ann Johnson Stewart, SD 44
Senate District 44 includes Plymouth and part of Minnetonka and went 50.2/49.8 in 2016. The Republican who barely won is not running again this year; it’s an open seat. Ann supports criminal justice reform, action on climate change, healthcare access, and for society to be accessible and equitable for disabled people. Her opponent doesn’t like the way Donald Trump says the quiet parts loud but gosh does he ever love his court nominees. Sign up to volunteer here.
Did I skip your favorite? Add them in the comments! If the race in that district was really not at all close in 2016, thought, I would encourage you to make a case for them and not just drop a link — tell me and my readers why you think they’ve got a shot. You can look up Minnesota Senate Districts (and see the election results from 2016 and 2012) over on Ballotpedia.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the PCR. You can find the PCR form here. It really is an extremely simple form to fill out.