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Kalin Announcement Opens Up Ripe Opportunity in HD 17B for GOP in 2010

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Minnesota HD 17B has had a double-digit tilt for Republican candidates against their statewide average across several offices since 2002

When Republican State Representative Kurt Zellers made his debut as House Minority Leader in a press conference late last June, he made clear that one of his top goals, in addition to setting his caucus' agenda and fundraising for the GOP, would be to recruit strong Republican candidates for the 2010 election.

At that time, Zellers did not dismiss the idea of the GOP taking back control of the Minnesota House in 2010, despite facing a 38-seat deficit to the DFL.

The announcement today by 2-term DFLer Jeremy Kalin of North Branch (HD 17B) that he would not seek reelection this November likely just made Zellers' dream one seat closer to reality.

In his announcement, Kalin was self-assured that he could have won over his constituents for a third consecutive election this November ("I'm confident that I would have won their trust for another term"), but said that he is opting instead to focus on his family.

That confidence, however, may have been misguided, given the partisan leanings of Kalin's district, Kalin's own narrow victories during the Democratic tsunamis of 2006 and 2008, and the Republican resurgence being felt nationwide this year.

A Smart Politics analysis of statewide and district elections since redistricting in 2002 finds the voters in HD 17B to have demonstrated a significant GOP tilt vis-à-vis the performance of Republicans statewide.

In fact, Republican candidates for governor, US Senate, and president fared better in HD 17B by double-digit margins than they did statewide in every such contest since 2002.

· George W. Bush and John McCain each carried HD 17B, by 12.5 points in 2004 and 9.6 points in 2008 respectively. Those margins were 16.0 points and 19.8 points better than these GOP candidates did throughout the Gopher State.

· In US Senate contests, Norm Coleman carried 17B in both 2002 (by 18.5 points) and 2008 (by 13.8 points). And while Amy Klobuchar carried the district in 2006, she did so by 11.0 fewer points (9.2) than her statewide victory margin (20.2).

· Tim Pawlenty also dominated the district in both of his election bids - by 23.5 points in 2002 and 11.7 points in 2006. Both exceeded by double digits his statewide margin of victory.

· The GOP tilt in 17B was also demonstrated across elections for the other three constitutional offices in Minnesota, with a larger margin of victory (or narrower margin of loss) for all offices in both the 2002 and 2006 election cycles: for Secretary of State (+8.6 in 2002, +8.3 in 2006), Auditor (+9.3 in 2002, +4.5 in 2006), and Attorney General (+9.6 in 2002, +8.0 in 2006).

· In US House races, Jim Oberstar carried HD 17B by much narrower margins than his 37.4, 33.0, 29.2, and 35.5-point victories across the 8th Congressional District from 2002 through 2008. In 17B, Oberstar won by just 14.6 points in 2002, 14.3 points in 2004, 17.6 points in 2006, and 18.6 points in 2008 - a 17.5-point average tilt for the GOP in HD 17B against the 8th CD generally.

And as for State House races, even with Kalin's victories in 2006 and 2008, there has been a double digit average GOP tilt (+10.3 points) against the statewide average for all 134 house districts across the last four election cycles: +14.7 points in 2002, +12.6 points in 2004, +9.4 points in 2006, +4.5 points in 2008.

Votes cast for GOP candidates for State Senate contests in HD 17B were also 7.8 points (2002) and 7.7 points (2006) better than the statewide average for Republicans across Minnesota's 67 Senate districts.

GOP Tilt in Minnesota HD 17B in Statewide and District Elections by Office, 2002-2008

Office
2002
2004
2006
2008
Average
President
 
16.0
 
19.8
17.9
US Senate
16.8
 
11.0
13.8
13.9
US House*
22.8
18.7
11.6
16.9
17.5
Governor
15.6
 
10.7
 
13.2
Secretary of State
8.6
 
8.3
 
8.5
Auditor
9.3
 
4.5
 
6.9
Attorney General
9.6
 
8.0
 
8.8
State Senate**
7.8
 
7.7
 
7.8
State House**
14.7
12.6
9.4
4.5
10.3
Data reflects the difference between the margin of victory (or margin of loss) for Republican candidates in HD 17B and statewide totals. * For U.S. House contests, the difference is reflected against the district-wide 8th CD margin. ** For State House and State Senate races, the difference is tabulated against the total statewide margins for all 134 and 67 districts respectively. Election data compiled by Smart Politics.

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