In recent years Minnesota has lead all Upper Midwestern states with the highest percentage of successful third party campaigns in state legislative races. While third party candidates still have a significant presence in the Gopher state (especially in state-wide elections), the number of third party candidates in Minnesota’s 2006 state legislative races is now trending downwards.
In 2002, nearly one-third of state Senate districts (21) had third-party candidates garner at least 2 percent of the vote in the general election—sometimes impacting the outcome of the election. In 2006, however, there will only be 9 third-party Senate candidates on the ballot: 7 Independence Party candidates, 1 Green Party candidate, and 1 independent candidate.
Third parties have also traditionally played a major part in Minnesota state House elections. In 2004, 30 third party or independent candidacies garnered 2% or more of the general election vote. There were 42 such successful third-party and independent candidacies in 2002, 32 in 2000, and 18 in 1998. In 2006, however, only 10 House district races boast third party candidates: 9 with candidates from the Independence Party and 1 with an independent candidate.
The Jesse Ventura years clearly gave third party candidates a boost in Minnesota, but the clock may now be running on the half-life of this legacy.