1978 United States Senate election in Minnesota

The 1978 United States Senate election in Minnesota was held on November 7, 1978. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Wendell Anderson was defeated by Republican challenger Rudy Boschwitz.

United States Senate election in Minnesota, 1978

← 1972 November 7, 1978 1984 →
  RudyBoschwitz.jpg Wendell Anderson.jpg
Nominee Rudy Boschwitz Wendell Anderson
Party Independent-Republican Democratic–Farmer–Labor
Popular vote 894,092 638,375
Percentage 56.57% 40.39%

County Results

Boschwitz:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%

Anderson:      40–50%

U.S. Senator before election

Wendell Anderson

Elected U.S. Senator

Rudy Boschwitz

The "Minnesota Massacre"Edit

In 1978, Minnesota's top three statewide offices were all up for election: the governorship and both U.S. Senate seats. But there was a particular oddity to the races: the incumbents, each a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, were all appointed to their offices, not elected. (Republicans took advantage of this, putting up billboards that read, "The DFL is going to face something scary — an election".)

First, after Walter Mondale was elected Vice President in 1976, sitting Governor Wendell Anderson resigned so that Lieutenant Governor Rudy Perpich, as the new governor, could appoint Anderson to the open seat. This did not sit well with the electorate. Then, in January 1978, Minnesota's other Senate seat opened up when Hubert Humphrey died; Perpich appointed Humphrey's widow, Muriel, to the office. But she did not want to run that fall, and the DFL nominated Bob Short for the post.

Though Democrats maintained large majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate, the November election was something of a disappointment for them, as they lost a handful of seats in both chambers. But for Minnesota's DFL it was a disaster, later dubbed the "Minnesota Massacre". Plywood magnate Rudy Boschwitz campaigned as a liberal Republican, freely spent his own money, and defeated Anderson by 16 points, while David Durenberger crushed Short by 26 points. Al Quie completed the Republican trifecta by downing Perpich 52% to 45%. (Perpich would be reelected governor in 1982 and 1986.) It was the first time the GOP had held all three offices since Joseph H. Ball left the Senate in January 1949.

Democratic–Farmer–Labor primaryEdit



  • Daryl W. Anderson
  • Wendell Anderson, Incumbent U.S. Senator since 1976
  • Dick Bullock
  • John S. Connolly
  • Emil L. Moses
  • Lloyd M. Roberts


Democratic primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Wendell Anderson (Incumbent) 286,209 56.9%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor John S. Connolly 159,974 31.8%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Daryl W. Anderson 23,159 4.6%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Lloyd M. Roberts 12,709 2.5%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Dick Bullock 11,485 2.3%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Emil L. Moses 9,580 1.9%
Total votes 503,116 100.0%

Independent-Republican primaryEdit




Republican primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent-Republican Rudy Boschwitz 185,393 86.8%
Independent-Republican Harold Stassen 28,170 13.2%
Total votes 213,563 100.0%

American Party primaryEdit



  • Sal Carlone


American Party primary election results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
American Sal Carlone 4,085 100.0%
Total votes 4,085 100.0%

General electionEdit


General election results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent-Republican Rudy Boschwitz 894,092 56.57%
Democratic–Farmer–Labor Wendell Anderson (Incumbent) 638,375 40.39%
American Sal Carlone 23,261 1.47%
Socialist Workers William Peterson 9,856 0.62%
Independent Brian J. Coyle 8,083 0.51%
Workers League Jean T. Brust 3,891 0.25%
Libertarian Leonard J. Richards 2,992 0.19%
Others Write-ins 72 0.01%
Total votes 1,580,622 100.0%
Majority 255,717 16.18%
Turnout 1,580,622 62.95
Independent-Republican gain from Democratic–Farmer–Labor

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Minnesota Election Results 1978 (Primary Election)" (PDF). Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  2. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=5315