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Minnesota Legislature majorities narrow; control still split

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Legislature appears to be headed into the 2021 session in January with control still split between Senate Republicans and House Democrats, but with smaller majorities for each party.

If preliminary results hold, the Senate GOP’s already narrow majority will slip by one seat to 34-33 next year.

In the St. Cloud area, Democratic challenger Aric Putnam has a 316-vote lead over Republican incumbent Sen. Jerry Relph after Tuesday’s deadline for late-arriving absentee ballots. The spread is 0.8 percentage point, which is outside the automatic recount margin.

Relph said he’s considering whether to ask for a recount in all or selected precincts. He declined to say if he’s considering legal action to disqualify absentee ballots that arrived after Election Day.

House Democrats are expected to hold a 70-64 majority when next year’s session convenes if the preliminary results stand, though three races are close enough to trigger automatic recounts. That represents a net gain of five seats for the GOP.

The Legislature will convene for its sixth special session of the year Thursday with its current membership.