Since January 3rd, when Norm Coleman’s first term as U.S. Senator came to an end, Amy Klobuchar has officially been doing double-duty as the state’s lone Senator on Capitol Hill. Klobuchar has stated her office started receiving a noticeable increase in constituency requests beginning in December, to the tune now of about double the normal constituency workload.

Minnesota’s Class II Senate seat will remain unoccupied until Governor Tim Pawlenty is permitted to make an appointment or until the election contest filed by Coleman reaches its final resolution in the courts. While the first scenario may never happen, the latter is sure to take several weeks.

The Gopher State has been represented by just one Senator several times in state history – with the current vacancy being the tenth in total. However, in all but three of the prior instances, the state endured the loss of a Senator for less than two weeks.

At twelve days and counting, Minnesota is already at its fourth longest stint with just one Senator on Capitol Hill. With the Coleman contest projected to last until at least late February, according to a recent proposal by attorneys for the Coleman campaign, the current empty Senate seat will almost assuredly become the 2nd longest in state history.

The longest stretch Minnesota ever went with being represented by only one Senator was in 1923, after the death of 5-term Republican Senator Knute Nelson on April 28th of that year. A special election was not held for 78 days, when Farmer-Laborite Magnus Johnson easily defeated Republican Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus and Democrat Jas A. Carley on July 16th.

The second longest stint occurred after the death of Farmer Laborite Ernest Lundeen on August 31, 1940. The appointment of Republican Joseph H. Ball did not take place until 43 days later, on October 14, 1940.

Seven of the previous nine instances in which Minnesota was without two Senators occurred due to death: Daniel S. Norton (1870), Cushman K. Davis (1900), Knute Nelson (1923), Thomas D. Schall (1935), Ernest Lundeen (1940), Hubert H. Humphrey (1978), and Paul Wellstone (2002). There was also a 4-day period without a Senator after Republican William Windom resigned to become President James Garfield’s Treasury Secretary in March 1881; Alonzo Edgerton was appointed to the seat. When Edgerton’s appointment ended in October of that year, there was then a 15-day stretch until Windom (having resigned his Treasury post) again took office in mid-November.

Periods with Only One U.S. Senator in Minnesota State History

Outgoing
Date
Reason
Incoming
Date
Days
Knute Nelson
04/28/1923
Death
Magnus Johnson
07/16/1923
78
Ernest Lundeen
08/31/1940
Death
Joseph H. Ball
10/14/1940
43
Alonzo J. Edgerton
10/30/1881
End of appt.
William Windom
11/15/1881
15
Norm Coleman
01/03/2009
Contested election
???
???
12+
Hubert H. Humphrey
01/13/1978
Death
Muriel Humphrey
01/25/1978
11
Paul Wellstone
10/25/2002
Death
Dean Barkley
11/05/2002
10
Cushman K. Davis
11/27/1900
Death
Charles A. Towne
12/05/1900
7
Thomas D. Schall
12/22/1935
Death
Elmer A. Benson
12/27/1935
4
William Windom
03/07/1881
Resigned
Alonzo J. Edgerton
03/12/1881
4
Daniel S. Norton
07/13/1870
Death
William Windom
07/15/1870
1