1940 Election Cycle

Franklin Roosevelt carried Minnesota in a close race against Wendell Willkie marking just the third time a presidential election had been decided by less than five points out of 21 elections held at that point in state history.

Republicans swept the remaining statewide offices led by Governor Harold Stassen, Lieutenant Governor C. Elmer Anderson, Secretary of State Mike Holm (winning his 11th term), Attorney General J.A.A. Burnquist, Treasurer Julius Schmahl, and N.J. Holmberg who unseated Farmer-Laborite Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner Charles Munn.

U.S. Senator Henrik Shipstead ran as a Republican this cycle after three terms as a Farmer-Laborite and cruised to a large double-digit victory. In elections to the U.S. House, freshman John Alexander lost the 3rd CD Republican primary to Dick Gale. In November, three-term Democrat Elmer Ryan was defeated in the 2nd CD by Republican Joseph O’Hara as the GOP claimed eight districts with one going to the Farmer-Labor Party.

Associate Justices Clifford Hilton and Julius Olson were reelected to their fourth and third terms respectively.

Elections

Date Office Stage Winners Details
11/05/1940 Railroad & Warehouse Commissioner General Nathaniel John (N.J.) Holmberg (Republican) won with 577,691 votes (50.68%) and a winning margin of +21.80
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Nathaniel John (N.J.) Holmberg Man Republican 577,691 50.68
Charles Munn Incumbent Man Farmer-Labor 329,180 28.88
Arthur N. Cosgrove Man Democrat 232,997 20.44

The election for this seat was for a six-year term.

Munn was the eighth Railroad / Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner to lose at the ballot box following Anti-Monopolist Alonzo Edgerton in 1875, Republican-turned-Prohibitionist William Marshall in 1881, Democratic-People's nominees Peter Rindal and Thomas Knox in 1900, Republican Christian Laurisch in 1934, Republican Frank Matson in 1936, and Farmer-Laborite Harold Atwood in 1938.

Holmberg was a farmer from Renville, former state Representative (HD 22, 1907-1915), state Senator (SD 23, 1915-1919), Commissioner of Agriculture (1919-1931), candidate for Governor in 1930, nominee for an at-large U.S. House seat in 1932, nominee for U.S. Senate in 1934, and independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 1936.

Cosgrove was a resident of Minneapolis, chasier for the Great Northern Railway, Democratic nominee for Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner in 1936, 1938, and 1942, DFL nominee for Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner in 1944, and DFL candidate for Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner in 1946.

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11/05/1940 Supreme Court Associate Justice General Clifford L. Hilton (Nonpartisan) won with 518,524 votes (30.45%) and a winning margin of +7.70
Julius Olson (Nonpartisan) won with 487,034 votes (28.60%) and a winning margin of +5.86
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Clifford L. Hilton Incumbent Man Nonpartisan 518,524 30.45
Julius Olson Incumbent Man Nonpartisan 487,034 28.60
Clifford W. Gardner Man Nonpartisan 387,308 22.74
Joseph A. (J.A.) Morrison Man Nonpartisan 310,146 18.21

Associate Justice Hilton was reelected to a fourth term. Hilton resigned on May 1, 1943. Governor Edward Thye appointed Clarence Magney to fill the vacancy effective June 24, 1943. Magney was a resident of Duluth, former Mayor of Duluth, and sitting Eleventh Judicial District Judge (1921-1943).

Associate Justice Olson was elected to a third term.

Gardner was an attorney from St. Paul and candidate for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1942.

Morrison was an attorney from Hutchinson who served as probate and juvenile judge of McLeod County. He was also a candidate for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1944.

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11/05/1940 State House, District 01 General John A. Johnson (ii) (Nonpartisan) won with 11,609 votes (66.79%) and a winning margin of +33.57
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
John A. Johnson (ii) Incumbent Man Nonpartisan 11,609 66.79
S. Theodore (S. Theo) Severtson Man Nonpartisan 5,773 33.21

At-large seat.

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11/05/1940 State House, District 01 General Herb Wheaton (Nonpartisan) won with 4,557 votes (65.58%) and a winning margin of +31.16
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Herb Wheaton Man Nonpartisan 4,557 65.58
William R. Johnsrud Man Nonpartisan 2,392 34.42
11/05/1940 President / Vice President General Franklin Roosevelt (Democrat) won with 644,196 votes (51.49%) and a winning margin of +3.83
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent
Franklin Roosevelt Incumbent with Henry Wallace Man Democrat 644,196 51.49
Wendell Willkie with Charles McNary Man Republican 596,274 47.66
Norman Thomas with Maynard Krueger Man Socialist 5,454 0.44
Earl Browder with James Ford Man Communist 2,711 0.22
John Aiken with Aaron Orange Man Industrial 2,553 0.20

Roosevelt and Wallace each received Minnesota's 11 Electoral College votes. This race was the third closest presidential election of the 21 held at this point in Minnesota history behind 1916 (0.10 points) and 1892 (3.27 points). The contest in Minnesota was the ninth most competitive in the nation and the fifth closest victory for Roosevelt behind Wisconsin (1.82 points), Illinois (2.43 points), New York (3.55 points), and New Jersey (3.62 points).

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