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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

    Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

    The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

    Political Crumbs

    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.


    Home Field Advantage?

    When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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