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Key races to watch in Minnesota and beyond

Candidates are making their final pushes to win votes ahead of Election Day. Here are some of the races political expert David Schultz is keeping a close eye on.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8 and the balance of power in Minnesota's Legislature and the U.S. Congress will hinge on the results.

In Minnesota, all eyes are on the governor's race with Democratic Gov. Tim Walz facing off against Republican challenger Scott Jensen.

RELATED: Walz and Jensen battle for governor's office

But there are plenty of other races gaining attention during the midterms. 

"We shouldn't forget the fact that this is a year where a lot of the down-ballot races are also important. Generally, people don't pay attention to things such as attorney general... that's attracted a lot of national money, as well as the secretary of state and even a position like the state auditor. So all four statewide races are important but there are a couple others that I think are really significant," said David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University.

RELATED: Keith Ellison in tight battle with Jim Schultz

RELATED: Steve Simon vs Kim Crockett in secretary of state race

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, who flipped the district from red to blue in 2018, is seeking a third term in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District. Craig is locked in a tight race with Republican Tyler Kistner who came close to defeating her in 2020.

"That is one of the very few competitive congressional races in the country. Estimates are it's attracted $25 million and that's the kind of race that might determine the control of Congress, who wins it," Schultz said.

RELATED: Angie Craig vs. Tyler Kistner in 2nd Congressional District rematch

Schultz's sleeper race in the state is for Hennepin County Attorney. Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty is running against Martha Holton Dimick, a former Hennepin County judge. 

"The two candidates, Dimick versus Moriarty, represent the different, let's say, poles of the Democratic party in terms of crime, police reform, and so forth," Schultz said. "Given how important the county attorney's race is, given how important that really Minneapolis and Hennepin County have become since George Floyd's murder, this is a race that's being watched across the country."

In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers and his Republican challenger, Tim Michels, spent the weekend out on the campaign trails in hopes of securing a victory Tuesday.

RELATED: In battle for U.S. Senate, Wisconsin emerges as key race

Besides the gubernatorial race, there is national attention on a tight U.S. Senate race between Incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.

Schultz said there are nine critical U.S. Senate races as Republicans seek to flip both chambers.

"The ones that most people are focusing on right now are in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona. Those are probably the big four at this point. But if we were to take a step back... of the nine critical races that are really about the control for the U.S. Senate, what's happening, assuming polls are accurate... right now, Republicans lead in about six of those nine. If that were to be the final results on election day, the U.S. Senate would more likely than not flip to Republican control."

The final national NBC News poll of the 2022 midterms found that Democrats have caught up to the GOP on election enthusiasm with 73% of voters from both parties expressing high interest in the election.

The poll found that when voters were asked what they consider the nation's most important issue, 23% answered with "threats to democracy," 20% said jobs and the economy, and 17% replied with the cost of living.

RELATED: Balance of power on the line in Minnesota Legislature, U.S. Congress

Schultz said no matter who ends up in power in Minnesota, expect abortion to still be a major issue in the 2023 legislative session, along with crime, inflation and the economy.

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