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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

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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