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 twenty-second profile in the series is Minnesota's 6th Congressional District race.
Minnesota's 6th Congressional District comprises the state's central counties of Benton, Sherburne, Wright, the eastern half of Stearns County, and most of Anoka and Washington counties.
Michele Bachmann, a former 2-term State Senator and federal tax litigation attorney, entered Congress after defeating DFL nominee Patty Wetterling by 8.0 points in 2006. The race was the second most competitive U.S. House race in the Gopher State. Bachmann held the open seat for the GOP left by 3-term Republican Mark Kennedy, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. Kennedy had unseated 4-term DFL incumbent David Minge in the 2nd Congressional District in 2000. The race was extremely competitive, decided by 155 votes (0.1 points). After redistricting, Kennedy ran in 2002 in the new 6th District that had a bigger Republican base, and beat DFL nominee Janet Robert by 22.2 points. In 2004 Kennedy beat Wetterling by 8.1 points - the most competitive US House race in Minnesota that year.
Bachmann is running on a platform of lowering taxes, solving the energy crunch by drilling in ANWR and building more nuclear power plants, fighting the rising costs of health care by offering full tax deductibility for individual medical expenses, continuing the war on terror abroad and fighting illegal immigration at home, and advocating a pro-life agenda. Bachmann opposed both versions of the Congressional financial bailout plan.
DFL-er Elwyn Tinklenberg, the former Transportation Commissioner under Governor Jesse Ventura and former Mayor of Blaine, has received both the DFL and Independence Party endorsements in this race. Tinklenberg supported the federal financial bailout action, opposes the privatization of Social Security, supports maintaining the legality of Roe v. Wade, backs federal funding of stem cell research, supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in addition to better securing U.S. borders, and supports a 'responsible' timetable of troop withdrawal in Iraq.
Bob Anderson, who works in the dental health industry, is running as an Independence Party candidate without the Party's endorsement. Anderson is running on the platform issue of mental health parity. He also supports General Petraeus' plan for the War in Iraq, an increased U.S. presence in the war on terror in Afghanistan, deploying the National Guard to secure American borders, and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Aubrey Immelman, a psychology professor at St. John's University, recently launched a write-in campaign after Bachmann's infamous exchange with Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball on October 17th. Immleman ran against Bachmann in the GOP primary, winning 14.1 percent of the vote. Immelman is running with a campaign motto of, "Leading the charge against neocon ideology. He supports securing U.S. borders and ports as a top campaign priority and is one of the few Republican politicians to publicly state that the United States is less safe with Saddam Hussein now out of power in Iraq. Immleman had suspended his campaign after the primary defeat, but relaunched it on October 18th, stating Bachmann has, "Dishonored her office and brought shame to the Sixth District and the State of Minnesota by calling for a media investigation reminiscent of McCarthy-era witch hunts.
DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar won the 6th District over its own former Representative Mark Kennedy by a 4.8-point margin in 2006. Other recent Republican candidates, however, have fared well in the conservative 6th District - Tim Pawlenty defeated Mike Hatch by 18.6 points in 2006 and George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by 14.4 points in 2004. While recent polls after the development of Bachmann's Hardball comments have highlighted the tight race between Bachmann and Tinklenberg, the fact that the 6th District was a competitive race both in 2004 and 2006 gets lost in the discussion. In a Democratic tidal wave election (in 2008, as in 2006), even the 6th District (without the recent controversy) would pose some challenges for Bachmann. Those challenges are now simply compounded by the controversy, Tinklenberg's subsequent fundraising goldmine, and perhaps, at the margins, Immelman's reentry into the race.