We kick off the Wednesday Digest with some still-unresolved races around the state.
1. Hennepin County sheriff race results official, recount still possible. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s defeat was officially certified Tuesday by the Hennepin County Canvassing Board, which found no errors in the vote totals announced last week. But a spokesman for Stanek said Tuesday afternoon that the sheriff wasn’t yet ready to discuss whether he would ask for a recount. That contradicted what seemed to be the message of Stanek’s statement after the board certified the results Tuesday morning, in which the sheriff said he “congratulated Sheriff-elect David Hutchinson” and that “the transition is underway.” Stanek has seven days to decide whether to seek a manual recount of the votes and would have to pay $95,000 for it, since the vote margin between the two candidates is greater than that set by state law for an automatic recount. (Star Tribune)
2. Heads or tails? There were plenty of close races this midterm election in Minnesota — but a few, including one race in Maplewood, ended dead even. Maplewood City Council member Marylee Abrams is tied with challenger Nikki Villavicencio for an at-large seat on the council. Both candidates received exactly 5,755 votes, tying for one of two at-large seats on the ballot in the suburban city. Under state law, if there’s no clear winner after election day, it must be settled “by lot.” Ties are broken with a draw, and it’s up to the local government on how to proceed. They can cut a deck of cards, draw straws or even pick a name out of a hat. The Maplewood seat will be decided by a coin toss at the council meeting Tuesday night. (MPR News)
3. Teaching consent in #MeToo era. While recent months have brought to light how colleges and universities are struggling to deal with sexual assault on their campuses, high schools and even middle schools are also facing challenges. Advocates in Minnesota say even in the #MeToo era, high schools and middle schools aren’t adequately teaching students the fundamentals of sexual consent. The group ConsentEd Minnesota worked alongside Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, earlier this year to lobby for a bill that would mandate consent education in K-12 health classrooms. The bill would require all high schools to teach “affirmative” consent in the classroom. The proposal failed to make it into a larger budget and policy bill that was sent to the governor, Quade said. “One of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle tried to paint it as though we were trying to teach sex to children,” Quade said. Quade, who gave up her legislative seat when she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, isn’t sure if the bill will be revived next session in the House, which is now under DFL control. But she’s hopeful. (MPR News)
4. A real outlier in St. Paul. You are traveling through another dimension — a dimension where St. Paul voters put Republicans ahead of DFLers in state legislative, congressional and statewide races by a sizable margin. No, it’s not the Twilight Zone. But tiny Ward 2, Precinct 10 is a notable exception — in fact, the only exception — to St. Paul’s political sea of blue. In a city of DFL-dominated political wards, a lone St. Paul precinct stood out for bucking the citywide wave last week and going red — deep red, by a ratio of 2-1. In fact, Republicans flipped the low-turnout precinct, which had favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president in 2016. (Pioneer Press)
5. Transitioning with Jesse Ventura. DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s transition to the governor’s office brought him face-to-face Tuesday with former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who pressed the incoming Minnesota governor to get moving on full-scale marijuana legalization. Walz, who was elected last week, is seeking advice from those who have held the job before him. So far, he has met with four of five, including his nearly hour-long, private sit-down with Ventura at the state Capitol. Ventura shared some details of what he and Walz talked about, from balancing family life to Ventura’s past gripe that the first lady isn’t paid to his desire to see Minnesota embrace legal marijuana. (MPR News)