Election eve: Minnesota candidates, volunteers push supporters to vote

It's the end of a long campaign for Minnesota's political candidates and the people who've given up their time to volunteer for the cause.

Democrats ended their four-day bus tour Monday with several rallies in the Twin Cities, pushing volunteers to sign up for extra shifts and work the phones or knock on doors to talk with voters. Republicans made a similar push this weekend, with a final rally planned for Monday evening.

DFL volunteer Jerry Gale of Brooklyn Park said he knocked on 1,000 doors before ankle surgery in mid-September took him off the streets. Since then, he's made 1,000 phone calls in support of Democratic candidates.

"My voice is a little dry, I guess," Gale said during a DFL campaign stop featuring all of the statewide officeholders. "The objective is to get those people who are thinking that they want to vote, to encourage them to actually go out and vote."

Republicans are also working hard, sensing their best chance in many years to win control of state government.

Angela and Ed Cook knocked on every door in a Lino Lakes neighborhood Monday afternoon for state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, who faces a tough re-election bid. The Cooks said they've hit the streets on 10 days this fall to volunteer.

RELATED: Find your polling spot through the Minnesota Secretary of State

"It's been a very good vibe for Republicans in general," said Angela Cook. "My hope is that there's a red wave."

Polls show that Republicans and Democrats could split the four statewide races for the first time since 2006. DFL Gov. Tim Walz and Secretary of State Steve Simon held leads on their respective Republican challengers, Scott Jensen and Kim Crockett, according to polling conducted in October. Republicans Jim Schultz and Ryan Wilson were tied with or leading the Democratic incumbents in the attorney general and auditor races.

Gov. Tim Walz and Scott Jensen face off in a debate. (Ben Mulholland/Gray Television)

While the candidates get the attention, volunteers hold one-on-one conversations that could be the determining factor of whether a person votes. Their work takes on added importance when races are close.

"I'm really quite nervous about it. I do think it's a really important election," Gale said. "I really don't know what's going to happen. The country is divided. The state is divided."

Walz was scheduled to do six stops with the other DFL statewide officeholders Monday, finishing with their traditional Midnight Madness events in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Jensen was scheduled to hold a final campaign rally Monday night in Delano. The family doctor from Chaska plans to see patients at his medical practice on Election Day, a spokesman said.