Incumbents win in 6 of 8 House racesby Paul Tosto, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Incumbents continued to win the night in Minnesota's congressional elections. The Associated Press has declared DFL-Rep. Tim Walz winner of the 1st District, DFL-Rep. Collin Peterson the winner of the 7th District race. He follows fellow DFL-ers Jim Oberstar, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum and Republican John Kline as incumbents returning to the U.S. House of Representatives for a new two-year term.
Peterson had 72 percent of the vote with 32 percent of precincts reporting.
With Democrat Barack Obama being declared the next president, the focus in the later hours tonight in Minnesota will be the U.S. Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken. Early returns show Coleman and Franken running neck-and-neck at about 41 percent with Independent Dean Barkley trailing with 16 percent of the vote. That's with a third of precincts reporting.
With 40 percent of precincts reporting in the 6th District Congressional race, Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann (47 percent) has a 4 percentage point lead over Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg (43 percent) with Independent Bob Anderson at 10 percent.
A provision that would amend the Minnesota constitution to set aside money for natural resources and the arts was winning handily -- with 26 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent were voting yes.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. across Minnesota after voters packed high school gyms, churchs and community halls across the state to have their say on issues from school levies to the next president. That presidential race, at least, turned out to be an easy call. Within 10 minutes of the polls closing, the Associated Press reported.
Yolanda Mix of Richfield voted for Obama, figuring he better knows the problems confronting people struggling to make ends meet.
"He's walked in out shoes -- walked with us, not on top of us. He knows what we went through and how we struggled. So, he knows what we need to get by in this world," Mix said.
State election officials were predicting an 80-plus percent voter turnout -- numbers not seen since Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson battled in 1956. People apparently got the message to come early if they could. As 8 p.m. approached tonight, several polling places in uptown Minneapolis were virtually deserted with poll watchers saying the evening traffic wasn't nearly as heavy as the morning rush.
In interviews across the state, voters seemed upbeat generally about the elections and the prospects for change whoever's elected. Voting went smoothly for the most part, although there were pockets of problems.
Throughout the day, voters emailed and phoned Minnesota Public Radio about isolated problems with ballot scanners, wait-times at polls and names not being on the voter rolls. Others described the mood at polling site as "exciting" and "fabulous."
(Reporters Annie Baxter, Lorna Benson, Jim Bickal, Molly Bloom, Michael Caputo, Ambar Espinoza, Linda Fantin, Martin Moylan, Dan Olson, Melody Ng, and Tim Post contributed to this report, which was supplemented by The Associated Press.)