ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - With resignation announcements Tuesday night for state Rep. Tony Cornish and Sen. Dan Schoen over recent sexual harassment allegations, Minnesota now begins the process of filling both vacancies with a special election.
Governor Mark Dayton has 35 days to announce the election date, with a primary election that must be held 14 days or more beforehand. This could happen as soon as January in order to get the new state lawmakers sworn in before the legislature reconvenes Feb. 20.
Leadership in both chambers, for their part, are hoping to move on from these incidents as soon as possible, not holding hearings or investigations into either Schoen or Cornish.
Right now, Republicans hold a razor-thin one person majority in the state Senate, which makes the competitive district in the south Twin Cities metro that Schoen currently represents vitally important to the balance of power in the chamber. Both House districts in that area are represented by Republicans, putting Democratic control of Schoen's seat in jeopardy.
"That one seat means Republicans can spare no votes right now on any issue," political analyst Blois Olson said. "They need their entire caucus."
Experts say to look for local school board and city council members in Schoen's district to run, with a possible wild card in former DFL state Sen. Katie Sieben--who filled the seat for 10 years before retiring last year.
The Minnesota House of Representatives, however, maintains a 20-seat majority--making the race to fill Cornish's seat less important in the larger scheme of state politics.
The real impact, however, will more than likely come in the form of more transparent sexual harassment reporting practices for the state legislature, especially for lobbyists who have limited recourse under current laws.
"2018 is shaping up very much to be the year where women's issues and equality are likely to be on the top of voters and candidates minds," Olson said. "We're going to have a correction."