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Third Party Impact on the 2008 Minnesota Legislative Vote

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Third party candidates in the Gopher State made a slight comeback in 2008, and had some impact on Minnesota legislative races on Tuesday.

Two races were decidedly impacted by third party candidacies. In the open DFL House District 51A, Republican Tim Sanders defeated DFL candidate Shawn Hamilton by a 47.8 to 43.2 percent margin. Independence Party candidate Daniel William Sanders won 8.7 percent - nearly twice as much as the winning victory margin of 4.6 points. Barack Obama carried the battleground district by 1.5 points in the presidential contest, as did El Tinklenberg by 8.1 points in the 6th CD race. Norm Coleman, however, won the district by 7.2 points in the US Senate race.

In the special election to fill Republican Senator Betsy Wergin's seat (who was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission) in Senate District 16, write-in votes for exiled Republican Mark Olson netted 1,462 votes, or 3.2 percent. As a result, the district flipped as DFLer Lisa Fobbe defeated Republican primary winner Alison Krueger by just 85 votes. Smart Politics contemplated a DFL pickup in SD 16 back in mid-August prior to the Republican primary.

Incumbent, "Override 6" alumni, and former Republican Ron Erhardt, who ran on the Moderate Independent Party ticket this year to challenge Republican nominee Keith Downey and DFLer Kevin Staunton, also may have helped the GOP carry his 41A House District. Downey defeated Erhardt by 4.8 points and Staunton by 5.3 points in a district Barack Obama won by 12.6 points. It is unclear if Staunton would have prevailed had Erhardt stepped down after failing to win the GOP nomination, however, as Norm Coleman won the district by 8.6 points and Erik Paulsen won the 3rd CD race in 41A by 6.7 points.

Overall, there were 14 candidates on the ballot in Minnesota House races - up from 11 in 2006. The number of third party state House candidacies is down from its 1996-2004 heyday, in which an average of 29 candidates appeared on the ballot.

Previous post: Independence Party Sets New Records in Election 2008
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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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