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Election Profile: Minnesota's 1st Congressional District (2008)

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The seventeenth profile in the series is Minnesota's 1st Congressional District race.

Candidates:
DFL: Tim Walz (1-term incumbent)
Republican: Brian J. Davis
Independence: Gregory Mikkelson

District Geography:
Minnesota's 1st Congressional District comprises counties in the southern rim of the state: Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Jackson, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmstead, Pipestone, Rock, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, and Winona.

History:
Tim Walz's 5.6-point victory over six-term Republican incumbent Gil Gutknecht was one of the biggest U.S. House upsets across the country in 2006 (note: though predicted by Smart Politics). Gutknecht had won his three previous election campaigns by an average of 21.9 points. With the exception of moderate Democrat Tim Penny's 6-term service from 1984-1992, the GOP had won every 1st District contest from 1892 through 2004.

Walz, an Army National Guard and Iraq War veteran and former teacher, serves on the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Brian Davis, a Mayo Clinic physician, defeated his Republican opponent in September's primary, State Senator Dick Day, by a 67 to 33 percent margin. He is running on a platform of lowering taxes, eliminating earmarks, building a fence along the southern border, protecting the traditional definition of marriage and life, and remaining on the offensive against radical Islamists.

Independence Party candidate and farmer Gregory Mikkelson ran in 2004 for the 1st District seat, receiving 4.8 percent of the vote. In 2002 he ran on the Green Party ticket winning 3.7 percent of the vote.

Outlook:
George W. Bush carried the 1st District in both 2004 (51.1 percent to 47.4 percent over John Kerry) and 2000 (47.7 percent to 46.0 percent over Al Gore). Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty also carried the district decisively in his successful re-election bid in 2006 (49.3 percent to 43.8 percent). The fact that Walz outperformed the top of his ticket by 11.1 points in 2006 indicates he resonates with members of his district as more than a 'typical Democrat.' Were it not for Republican Jim Ramstad's (MN-03) retirement and the need for Republicans to defend that seat in a tight race, the GOP would likely be more focused on recapturing this slightly Republican-leaning district from the Freshman Congressman.

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1 Comment


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  • Leave a comment


    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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