Simon Wins Third Term On Good Night For Jewish Candidates

Steve Simon, Minnesota’s first Jewish constitutional official, is on course to win a third term as Secretary of State, as projected by the Associated Press. Simon leads Republican candidate Kim Crockett by a 55 percent-45 percent margin with greater than 90 percent of the vote in.

The race started from a very different place than Simon’s 2014 and 2018 races for the secretary of state office. Crockett made headlines six months ago when she played a video at the Minnesota GOP party convention that showed Steve Simon, Minnesota’s secretary of state, and Marc Elias, an elections attorney, as the Grady twins from the horror movie “The Shining,” based on a novel by Stephen King. A caption on the image read “let’s wreck elections for ever and ever and ever.”

The next shot was an image of Hungarian Jewish philanthropist George Soros manipulating strings attached to Simon and Elias.

“I make no judgement of what’s in her head and in her heart,” Simon said early Wednesday morning following the AP call. “The images were antisemitic and troubling.”

Soros is a regular punching bag for Republican and far-right figures, in a campaign against the billionaire that uses “longstanding antisemitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events,” the Anti-Defamation League has said.

Simon told TC Jewfolk shortly after the video had gone viral that it was “deeply disturbing” and “This is the kind of thing you see from extremist social media trolls, not from serious people running for a serious office.”

David Hann, the MN GOP’s chairman, released a statement apologizing for Crockett’s video after speaking with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, although Crockett, on May 20, emailed supporters and called the controversy “contrived and bogus.”

At an August Republican Jewish Coalition candidate forum in St. Louis Park, Crockett said “We’ve had 16 years of a Soros-funded secretary of state’s office that has left us disconnected from the civic tradition of in-person voting.” 

Simon said another curveball in the race was Crockett being an election denier who supported former President Donald Trump’s “big lie.”

“In my other races, it was about the very legitimate argument of what the election system should look like,” Simon said. “In this campaign, I’m running against an election denier with a different view of reality itself.”

Simon said the race getting started as it did was “jarring.”

“The Republican Party itself apologized for it, and I gave them credit for it then and do now,” he said. “She didn’t. It’s a terrible way to start the campaign, and I tried to keep it on the issues and my vision of democracy.”

With the third term seeming assured, Simon said he wants to build on Minnesota’s success story, which has seen voters in the state lead the nation in turnout — but he wants to help get even more eligible voters to participate.

“It’s not a perfect system – no system is,’ he said. “We’ve struck a balance between access and security; I want to help build on that and help find common ground.”

Rep. Dean Phillips

Congressman Dean Phillips, Minnesota’s first Jewish member of the House of Representatives, won a third term in Washington, defeating his challenger, Tom Weiler, with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Phillips outperformed his totals in 2018 and 2020, when he won each race by a 55-45 margin.

“We won this election not by attacking or demeaning my opponent, but by extending invitations to voters rejecting today’s vitriolic politics,” Phillips said in a statement. “As I’ve done for the past four years, I will continue to work with both Democrats AND principled Republicans to seek common ground for the common good, solve our nation’s problems, restore Americans’ faith in government, and ensure that power is returned to where it belongs – to the people.”

Rep. Angie Craig

For the second straight election, Rep. Angie Craig defeated Tyler Kistner in Minnesota’s second congressional district, according to an AP call. With more than 96 percent of the vote in, Craig leads Kistner by 5 percent – 50 to 45. Craig, who like Phillips first won their congressional seat in 2018, defeated Kistner by less than 3 percent in 2020.

State Senate races

Bonnie Westlin, District 42

Bonnie Westlin, who fell short in senate runs in 2016 and 2020, won an open seat in the newly redrawn Senate District 42, defeating Republican challenger Paul Hillen with nearly 58 percent of the vote. The race was seen as crucial to determine which party would control the senate, which Democrats appear to have done by a 34-33 margin. Prior to this election, was the only state that had split control of its two legislative bodies, although the DFL is projected to regain the majority in the House. 

Sen. Jeremy Miller, District 26

Sen. Jeremy Miller, the Republican majority leader this past term, won re-election in his district in far southeastern Minnesota – Winona, La Crescent, Goodview, Chatfield, Caledonia, Spring Valley and Rushford – defeating DFLer Daniel Wilson, 58 percent-39 percent.

Dan Kessler, District 48

Dan Kessler, a psychologist from Chaska, fell short in his second bid to win a seat in the legislature, losing to incumbent Republican Sen. Julia Coleman – daughter-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, by nearly 55 percent to 45 percent. Kessler lost in a house race in 2020 to an incumbent by fewer than a thousand votes.

Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, District 49

Incumbent Sen. Steve Cwodzinski won a third term in District 49, defeating Marla Helseth by a 62 percent-38 percent margin.

Sen. Sandy Pappas, District 65

In a rematch from 2020, Sen. Sandy Pappas again defeated Paul Holmgren, to win her 11th term in the Senate. Pappas previously served three terms in the house as well. She won with nearly 83 percent of the vote, which was slightly better than her 81-19 win in 2020. 

State House races

Rep. Heather Edelson, District 50A

State Rep. Heather Edelson is returning to the capitol for a third term, defeating GOP challenger Sami Cisman 69 percent to 31 percent. Edelson was unopposed in running for re-election in 2020.

Rep. Sandra Feist, District 39B

Rep. Sandra Feist won re-election in her New Brighton/Columbia Heights district by a 70-30 margin over Republican Mike Sharp. She will serve her second term in the legislation. The margin of victory was identical to her win in 2020.

Rep Tina Liebling, District 24B

Rochester’s Tina Liebling is leading her Republican opponent, Katrina Pulham, with more than 56 percent of the vote with four precincts left to count. Liebling is seeking to win her 10th term in the senate.

Several win unopposed

State Reps. Frank Hornstein (District 61A), Emma Greenman (63B) and Sen. Ron Latz (46) all ran unopposed Tuesday in keeping their seats. Hornstein will be returning for his 11th term, Greenman her second, and Latz his sixth; he also served two terms in the House of Representatives before running for senate in 2006.

Judges Susan Segal and Bruce Manning also won elections unopposed.

Mendota Heights races

Mendota Heights Mayor Stephanie Levine won re-election, defeating her challenger, John P. Maczko, earning more than 59 percent of the vote. In the open city council seat, Sally Lorberbaum earned 41 percent of the vote to win the three-way race over John R. Mazzitello and Jeff Nath.

All information comes from the Secretary of State’s website, and is considered unofficial until the results are certified. If there are any Jewish candidates we missed, email us at [email protected].