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1978 United States Senate special election in Minnesota

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1978 United States Senate special election in Minnesota

← 1976 November 7, 1978 1982 →
Bob Short (1969).jpg
Nominee David Durenberger Bob Short
Party Independent-Republican Democratic–Farmer–Labor
Popular vote 957,908 538,675
Percentage 61.47% 34.57%

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Muriel Humphrey

Elected U.S. Senator

David Durenberger

The 1978 United States Senate special election in Minnesota was held on November 7, 1978. Democratic candidate Bob Short was defeated by Republican candidate David Durenberger.

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Race Description

In 1978, all three key statewide races in Minnesota were up for election—the Governorship, and both Senate Seats (the other Senate seat belonged to Wendell Anderson, who, as Governor of Minnesota, appointed himself to fill the seat vacated by Walter Mondale, when Mondale ascended to the Vice Presidency in 1976). But, there was a particular oddity to the three races—all three had incumbents who were never elected to the office in the first place. This became a well played issue by the Republicans—a billboard put up across the state read, "The DFL is going to face something scary -- an election".

When Hubert H. Humphrey died in office in January 1978, sitting Governor Rudy Perpich appointed Humphrey's widow, Muriel to sit until a special election could be held later that year. However, Muriel Humphrey opted not to seek election to the seat in her own right, and the DFL nominated former Texas Rangers owner Bob Short to run in the subsequent special election. The Independent-Republicans, on their part, nominated the liberal Republican David Durenberger, creating an unusual race in which the DFL candidate was positioned to the right of the Independent-Republican candidate. In addition to the general sense of dissatisfaction voters felt for the DFL, the DFL also had to contend with a large number of liberal members of the DFL, who were dissatisfied with Short's positions on hot button issues such as abortion, motorboat usage in the Boundary Waters Canoe area, and government spending, crossing party lines to vote for Durenberger. As a result, Durenberger won in a 26.9-percent landslide as the governorship and both U.S. Senate seats switched into Republican hands.

Democratic–Farmer–Labor primary




Democratic special primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Bob Short 257,289 48.0%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Donald M. Fraser 253,818 47.4%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Sharon Anderson 16,094 3.0%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Richard A. Palmer 8,425 1.6%
Total votes 535,626 100.0%

Independent-Republican primary




Republican special primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent-Republican David Durenberger 139,187 67.3%
Independent-Republican Malcolm Moos 32,314 15.6%
Independent-Republican Ken Nordstrom 14,635 7.1%
Independent-Republican Will Lundquist 12,261 5.9%
Independent-Republican Adell H. Campbell 8,523 4.1%
Total votes 206,920 100.0%

American Party primary



  • Paul Helm


American Party special primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
American Paul Helm 4,585 100.0%
Total votes 4,585 100.0%

Special election


Special election results[2][3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent-Republican David Durenberger 957,908 61.47%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Bob Short 538,675 34.57%
American Paul Helm 45,402 2.91%
Socialist Workers Christine Frank 11,397 0.73%
Libertarian Frederick Hewitt 4,116 0.26%
Others Write-ins 878 0.06%
Total votes 1,558,376 100.0%
Majority 399,233 25.62%
Turnout 1,558,376 62.06
Independent-Republican gain from Democratic–Farmer–Labor

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Minnesota Election Results 1978 (Primary Election)" (PDF). Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^
This page was last edited on 26 September 2019, at 20:11
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