1912 Election Cycle
For the first time in Minnesota history, voters did not back a Republican nominee for president – ending a string of 13 straight cycles. Instead, the state backed Progressive Teddy Roosevelt by 5.8 points with 37.7 percent of the vote – the lowest support ever recorded for a presidential candidate carrying the Gopher State.
The first primary for statewide offices was held in September with five political parties holding contests: Republicans, Democrats, Prohibitionists, Public Ownership (Socialists), and Socialist Labor. Each incumbent (all Republicans) running for reelection were renominated at the primary. A primary was also held for the U.S. Senate following the passage of the Keefe law (authored by Democratic state Representative Joseph R. Keefe) which provided that state legislative candidates sign a pledge to observe the popular vote for U.S. Senate (not all candidates agreed to follow the spirit of the law).
Republicans swept the slate of statewide offices once again in November including nine incumbents: Governor Adolph Eberhart, Secretary of State Julius Schmahl (to a record fourth term), Attorney General Lyndon Smith (who was appointed to the office in January 1912 after the resignation of George Simpson), Treasurer Walter Smith, Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners Ira Mills and Charles Elmquist, and U.S. Senator Knute Nelson (winning the 'voter preference' ballot as the 17th Amendment had not yet been ratified). Republicans also held the open seat of Lieutenant Governor with nominee J.A.A. Burnquist.
Nonpartisan elections to the state Supreme Court began in 1912 with Chief Justice Andrew Holt and Associate Justice Charles Start retaining their seats and Associate Justice George Bunn losing his to Oscar Hallam.
Congressional apportionment increased Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation size from nine to 10 seats, but for this lone cycle the district map for the nine seats from 1902-1910 remained in place with a new 10th at-large seat added. No incumbents were defeated in the congressional primaries. Republicans held their eight districts and won the at-large seat (James Manahan) with Democrat Winfield Hammond elected to a fourth term in the 2nd CD.