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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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73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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