House 3A special election coming

State Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) represents the state's largest House district including Koochiching, northern St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.

State Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) represented the state’s largest House district including Koochiching, northern St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.

UPDATE: Sources now tell me that the House 3A Special Election Primary will be Sept. 22, with the general election on Dec. 8. See my updated post.

This Saturday, mourners will remember State Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) who died after a short battle with cancer last weekend. In coming days, state officials are likely to announce a special election to fill his seat that would be held Nov. 3, 2015.

Open seats, especially during special elections, are always a fascinating political story on the Iron Range. Typically, the most action takes place in the DFL endorsement and primary; however in this case I think it’s worth watching Republican activity as well. A big district like this relies on direct mail and media, making it a ripe target for outside spending.

For reference, here are some select recent results from the district:

2014 State Representative
Republican ERIC JOHNSON, 6,297, 34.21%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor, DAVID DILL, 1,2067, 65.55%

2014 U.S. House District 8
Republican STEWART MILLS, 8,240, 44.15%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor RICK NOLAN, 9,588, 51.38%

2012 Presidential
Republican MITT ROMNEY AND PAUL RYAN, 9,739, 42.16%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN, 12,718, 55.06%

In 2014, both Mark Dayton and Al Franken finished in the high 50s here. So, while it’s not a blowout district, there is a clear DFL advantage. David Dill clearly had more support than any other candidate in this district, which is why I’ve described him as particularly suited to serving this area.

Some of the things I’m watching:

  • The internal DFL battle between the party’s progressive and pro-mining wings
  • The desire by environmental supporters to win the district that includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
  • The role of labor in a district with fewer big union shops
  • The factionalism of isolated counties like Koochiching and Cook.
  • The strategy Republicans deploy (the contrasting desires to nominate a candidate that fits the extreme conservatism of the local party or a more moderate candidate that could win a district that typically elects moderates).


  1. David Willard says

    My sympathies to Rep Dill’s loved ones and friends. He seemed like a hall fellow well met and left us far too soon.
    Aaron’s bias peeks ever so slightly through when he ties outside money and extremism to a potential Republican
    ontender and labels the Democrat pro mining or progressive. Black heart vs. White hat. Dayton and Franken and
    Klobuchar and Nolan had very little outside money, right?

    Don’t get too down, Aaron, in the unlikely event the republican
    wins, there can be recounts till forever to get your candidate in. There’s precedent for that.

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