Two years ago I woke up after the election depressed, confused, and wondering, not only how in the world we lost, but what the election would mean for people throughout our state and country. Even so, I never could have imagined how bad it would actually be; a sitting President of the United States and his ruling Republican Party, using hate, fear, and lies to divide a country desperately in need of unity. It would have been easy for so many of us to walk away in despair.
But we didn't. Instead, what I have witnessed over the last two years has restored my faith in humanity and given me hope that brighter days are ahead.
I met a young woman in Rochester shortly after the election in the cold of a Minnesota winter who told me she wasn’t giving into fear but was turning her energy into action and was going to run for office. I figured if this woman was going to stand up and fight back, then I needed to stand up too. She gave me inspiration when I needed it most.
Throughout the last two years I have continued to be inspired by the actions of people who chose to resist, insist, rise and organize. I was buoyed by the millions of women who took to the streets and marched the day after the inauguration. When Trump and the Republicans put the travel ban in place, I was awed by the thousands who showed up in airports throughout the country to stand with refugees and immigrants. I watched in amazement as young people proudly proclaimed ‘Enough is Enough’ after the horrific shooting in Parkland, and united by determination to make meaning of their grief, ignited a movement to stamp out the senseless gun violence that grips our nation.
I saw teachers throughout the country stand up to say together that we can and do better for our kids, our teachers and our schools. Their strikes brought much needed attention to the plight of underfunded school districts throughout America. And I witnessed - despite every attempt by Trump to deny responsibility for the damage of his hateful words and actions - a country that came together as one after the worst attacks on our Jewish community in American history.
Thanks to you and so many more, on Tuesday, November 6th, the politics of fear, hate and divisiveness was rejected at the ballot boxes. Thanks to our elected officials who won re-election because they showed time and again what political courage looks like. To our candidates who stood for office and prevailed in the face of unprecedented negative attacks. To the foundation of our party – the dedicated DFL staff who do this work not because it will make them wealthy, but because they choose to show up to work every day to live out their values. And thanks to people like you and all of our amazing volunteers who have made the choice to give of your time, your talent and your treasure because you believe that bending the arc of justice means more than being a bystander.
Together, we showed the world that America is greater than fear, that America can and always will appeal to our better angels, and that when walls are erected to stand in the way of progress, the American people have always pushed through them together.
Everywhere I've been, I have been stirred by the unparalleled enthusiasm of people who rolled up their sleeves - many of them for the first time - to get involved in politics because they understood that nothing less than our values, and our belief in the greater good were on the ballot, that our country was in peril, and that our democracy was at stake.
The polls have closed on the 2018 elections and one thing is clear: the DFL party is in its strongest position in years. This was an election cycle that thrust Minnesota into the national spotlight, with both Senate seats up for grabs, some of the most expensive and competitive congressional races in the country, the Minnesota House and Senate in play, and every Minnesota constitutional office on the ballot.
With so much on the line, it was crucial to ensure the DFL was in a formidable position to ensure our candidates had the maximum support needed to compete. And we succeeded. The DFL raised more than $21 million to support our candidates that includes 19,000 contributions from individual donors, 90% of which came from individual donors who contributed $100 or less.
Our massive voter engagement and outreach program to turn out the vote was the largest ever in DFL history. For months we spent time engaging voters at the doors, in parades, festivals, town halls, and everything in between. We had more organizers on the ground, more offices around the state, and more conversations with people than we ever had. We built a ground game second-to-none because we believe that the way we win elections in Minnesota is through direct voter contact.
Highlights of just our final two-week effort include:
- 43 Action Centers across the state •More than 17,500 volunteers, including nearly 2,500 volunteers who showed up to volunteer on election day alone
- And more than 2 million voters contacted through door knocks, phone calls and texts in the past two weeks, including more than 200,000 attempts on election day alone - an all time and historic record
- All of this energy resulted in fantastic victories up and down the ballot and will likely result in Minnesota retaining its place as number 1 in voter turnout, with a midterm turnout we haven’t seen since 2002! Thanks to all of you, we accomplished the following with our victories on Tuesday evening
- The DFL continues to hold every statewide elected office after the election of Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, Tim Walz & Peggy Flanagan, Keith Ellison, Steve Simon and Julie Blaha
- With the election of Tina Smith, Minnesota becomes only the fourth state ever to have two women United States Senators representing them
- Tuesday’s election marked the first time in our history that we will have three successive terms of a DFLer in the Governor’s office
- Peggy Flanagan will become Minnesota’s highest ranking Native American women to serve in public office in our nation
- Every statewide DFL candidate received over 1 million votes – the first time this has happened
- Minnesota will send the first Somali-American refugee to Congress with the election of Ilhan Omar in CD 5
- Angie Craig was elected as Minnesota’s first openly gay member of Congress
- With the addition of Ilhan Omar & Angie Craig, Minnesota’s congressional delegation is now 50% women, all of them DFLers
- We needed 11 seats to win back the State House of Representatives – we won 17, flipping that legislative chamber and making Melissa Hortman the next Speaker of the Minnesota House
- We went from one East African member at the Legislature to two with the election of Mohamud Noor and Hodan Hassan, and we increased the number of Hmong members to five with the election of Jay Xiong, Kaohly Her, Samantha Vang, Fue Lee and Tou Xiong
- In Hennepin County we elected two people of color, both women, to the County Board for the first time in the counties 164-year history
- And Dave Hutch will become the first openly gay Sheriff in the midwest and the Sheriff of Hennepin County, the largest county in Minnesota.
Even flushed with success, we know we cannot rest with this success. We need to turn this moment into a movement. When I ran for reelection two years ago, I said I had two goals: to elect a DFLer as Governor and to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. One down – one to go.
And so, I am pleased to announce I will be seeking another term as Chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. I humbly ask for your support to continue this important work. We have a tremendous amount of work to do in the coming weeks and months ahead to ensure that our Party keeps Minnesota blue in the upcoming Presidential race: we must re-elect our fantastic U.S. Senator Tina Smith, win back our Congressional seats in CD 1 & 8, and win majorities in both legislative chambers in advance of redistricting in 2022.
Over the last eight years our Party has enjoyed unprecedented electoral success up and down the ballot. We're financially stronger than ever and we are organized like never before. With your help Minnesota has become a model for how state parties can make a meaningful difference in elections. But there is still more we can do in the next two years to improve our Party. The results from November 6th made it clear we have work to do in Greater Minnesota, and we must improve and strengthen our caucus and endorsement process.
I am proud of the work we've done together, and I look forward to continuing to build this great DFL Party in the years ahead. Thank you for all you have done, and all you continue to do, to build our Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and to live our progressive values, each and every day. With Gratitude, Ken Martin Chairman Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party