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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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