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MN-08: An Intriguing Matchup

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Minnesota's 8th Congressional District (comprising the northeastern Iron Range counties), is home to one of the more unusual Congressional races this year, in which DFL incumbent James Obserstar, the senior member of Minnesota's US House delegation, is being challenged by Republican Rod Grams, a former US Representative in his own right (and a former US Senator).

The sixteen-term incumbent Oberstar serves as the highest-ranking democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Oberstar voted against the War in Iraq and is on record as being committed to bringing home U.S. troops as soon as possible.

Rod Grams has previously represented Minnesota's 6th District (defeating 10-year incumbent Democratic Gerry Sikorski in 1992) and the state in the U.S. Senate (replacing the retiring Dave Durenberger in 1996). Grams is campaigning for an air-tight border, economic development in the district, and providing a balanced budget.

Harry Welty - a columnist and former school board member - is also running for the seat under the Unity Party banner (although he has pledged to caucus with the Democratic Party if elected).

Oberstar was first elected to Congress in 1974 when he filled the open seat left by 14-term congressman John A. Blatnik in Minnesota's 8th District. Oberstar beat his Republican opponent in that election, Jerome Arnold, by 36 points. Oberstar has outlasted his predecessor by winning a string of 16 straight elections, by an average victory margin of 46 points. The GOP has failed to field a candidate against Obserstar in two elections (1976 and 1978), and the closest a Republican candidate has come to beating Oberstar is 29 points in 1992 (Independent-Republican Phil Herwig). Oberstar has won by more than 40 points in 9 of his 16 campaigns, and in 2004 he defeated GOP challenger Mark Groettum by 33 points.

The Oberstar-Grams matchup is intriguing to political junkies, especially with Grams' attempt at a very novel pathway to Washington, D.C.: US House via US Senate via US House. His chosen path in 2006, however, is filled with obstacles: Oberstar has been a fixture on the 8th District scene for generations and has five times more cash on hand ($475,000) than does Grams ($93,000) according to the Federal Election Commission's October 2006 report.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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