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Election Profile: Minnesota's 2nd 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 eighteenth profile in the series is Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Republican: John Kline (3-term incumbent)
DFL: Steve Sarvi
Write In: Kevin Masrud

District Geography:
Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District comprises the south central counties of Carver, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Rice, Scott, most of Dakota County, the southern part of Washington County, and one district in Hennepin County.

History:
Kline, a retired Marine colonel, easily defeated high-profile DFL nominee Colleen Rowley in 2006, by 16.2 points. Kline had the narrowest margin of victory in Gopher State U.S. House races in the 2002 election when he shocked the state by defeating DFL incumbent Bill Luther by 11.1 points in the newly drawn 2nd District. Luther had served the 6th District prior to redistricting and had defeated Kline in 2000 by 1.6 points - with conservative Constitution Party candidate Ralph A. Hubbard winning 2.4 percent of the vote. In 2004 Kline cruised to a 16.1-point victory over DFL-er Teresa Daly.

Kline is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and the House Ethics Committee.

Steve Sarvi, the former mayor of Watertown and military veteran, also received the endorsement of the 2nd District's Independence Party (whose candidate in 2002 and 2004, Doug Williams, received 3.2 and 3.7 percent of the vote respectively). Sarvi, who served in Iraq, supports withdrawing troops from Iraq gradually, but immediately. Sarvi is also running on a platform of lowering health care costs and increasing quality by spreading costs, cutting the middle man and focusing on prevention, lowering energy prices and creating hundreds of thousands of "green jobs, reducing the deficit and restoring fiscal responsibility, and moving towards more balanced trade relations.

Kevin Masrud is a Republican who recently launched a write-in campaign. Masrud was a Kline supporter and a member of the Carver County Republican board until Kline voted for the Congressional financial bailout package in early October. Masrud is running as a small government conservative who is pro-law, pro-life, pro-gun, and supports a dramatic cut in federal spending, including abolishing the Department of Education.

Outlook:
The 2nd District is the most reliably Republican district in the state, and Kline performed exactly as well as the top of the GOP ticket in the 2nd district in 2006: Tim Pawlenty defeated Mike Hatch also by a 16.2 margin in the 2nd (54.7 to 38.5 percent). The district also was Mark Kennedy's strongest in the 2006 U.S. Senate race, losing by 10.5 points to Amy Klobuchar (53.4 to 42.9 percent margin) - about 10 points better than he did statewide. George W. Bush carried the 2nd district in 2004 by 8.9 points over John Kerry (53.9 to 45.0 percent) and in 2000 by 13.5 points over Al Gore in the previously drawn 2nd District. It will be interesting to see the effect of Kline's support in the district when faced with two opponents (one officially on the ballot) who also have military experience.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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