ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – The Minnesota Democrat who won a special election Monday night for a state senate seat in a suburban district that went for President Donald Trump says her victory is proof voters are craving change.
Karla Bigham defeated Republican Denny McNamara in the swing district comprised of the eastern suburbs of St. Paul. Though that Minnesota Senate seat has been in Democrat hands for a decade, Donald Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election.
Bigham got 50 percent of the vote, narrowly passing McNamara’s 47 percent.
“There’s no doubt that people want change,” she told local ABC affiliate KSTP. “This is something that will hopefully transcend into the fall.”
The contest was one of two special elections Monday night triggered by two state lawmakers who resigned last year over allegations of sexual harassment. In a House race, Republican Jeremy Munson easily beat Democrat Melissa Wagner in a traditionally conservative part of southwest Minnesota, with 59 percent of the vote.
Bigham won by a smaller margin than her Democratic predecessor, Dan Schoen, who stepped down last November amid allegations of inappropriate text messages.
Bigham’s victory keeps the Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate at a narrow 34-33.
Wagner had hoped to flip a Minnesota House seat, but Republicans said their win in the area southwest of Mankato shows voters are still connecting with their party’s agenda.
“Tonight’s victory in House District 23B demonstrates that Trump still maintains strong support across greater Minnesota and that the people want to see Republicans continue to lead our state,” Jennifer Carnahan, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, said in a statement reported by the Star Tribune.
The Republican House win comes the same day a Ramsey County judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming Republican Leiteneuant Governor Michelle Fischbach cannot serve in that new role while also continuing to represent constituents as a state senator. The case was dismissed without prejudice, however, and can be refiled once Fischbach takes her seat on Feb. 20.