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Election Profile: Minnesota's 8th 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 twenty-fourth profile in the series is Minnesota's 8th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
DFL: James L. Oberstar (17-term incumbent)
Republican: Michael Cummins

District Geography:
Minnesota's 8th Congressional District comprises the northeastern Iron Range counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Wadena, and the southeastern part of Beltrami County.

History:
Oberstar was first elected to Congress in 1974 when he filled the open seat left by 14-term DFL Representative John A. Blatnik in Minnesota's 8th District. Oberstar beat his Republican opponent in that election, Jerome Arnold, by 35.8 points. Oberstar has now outlasted his predecessor, and is the longest serving Congressman in Gopher State history. Oberstar has won 16 straight re-election campaigns, by an average victory margin of 45.6 points. The GOP has failed to field a candidate against Obserstar in two elections (1976 and 1978), and the closest a Republican candidate has come to beating Oberstar is 29.4 points - both in 1992 (Independent-Republican Phil Herwig) and 2006 (former GOP U.S. Senator Rod Grams).

James Oberstar serves as Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Oberstar voted against the War in Iraq and is committed to bringing home U.S. troops "safely but soon. He is also advocating fiscal responsibility to combat the federal deficit, delivering increased benefits to veterans, and increasing the federal minimum wage.

Republican Michael Cummins, a project manager at Seal Guard Systems, is running a campaign that is "pro-life, pro-land rights, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-drilling.

Outlook:
The 8th Congressional District has been one of the most reliably Democratic in recent high-profile elections. In 2006, DFL-er Amy Klobuchar won her Senate seat in by 24.0 points and DFL nominee Mike Hatch carried the district by 11.1 points over Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. John Kerry carried the 8th District by 6.5 points in 2004 and Al Gore won by 5.4 points in the district in 2000. The DFL has held this U.S. House seat since 1946, and the 34-year serving Oberstar will easily return to Washington D.C. for two more years to his prestigious Chairmanship on the Transportation Committee.

Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District (2008)
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota U.S. Senate

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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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