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Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of Upper Midwestern congressional races leading up to the November 2nd elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The twenty-first profile in the series is Minnesota's 7th Congressional District.

Candidates:
DFL: Collin C. Peterson (10-term incumbent)
Republican: Lee Byberg
Independence: Glen Menze
Independent: Gene Waldorf

District Geography:
Minnesota's 7th Congressional District comprises counties along the western rim of the state: Becker, Big Stone, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, McLeod, Meeker, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Sibley, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine, and parts of Beltrami and Stearns counties.

History:
Collin Peterson is one of three Upper Midwesternerns in the House Blue Dog Democrats coalition. Peterson entered Congress by defeating seven-term GOP incumbent Arlan Stangeland by 7.1 points back in 1990. Peterson then narrowly won re-election in 1992 (by 1.3 points) and 1994 (2.6 points) before thoroughly dominating his GOP counterparts from 1996-2002 by an average margin of victory of 37 points.

In 2004, Peterson beat his Republican opponent David Sturrock by 32.3 points and in 2006 he rolled to a 40.7-point victory over Michael J. Barrett.

In 2008, the Congressman enjoyed the largest margin of victory of his career - 44.5 points over Republican Glen Menze (also Peterson's 2000 GOP opponent).

Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has been known to frequently cross party lines and vote with the GOP, as he did on this year's infamous health care legislation.

In 2010, Peterson squares off against Republican Lee Byberg, Menze for a third time (this time on the Independence Party ticket), and independent Gene Waldorf (a former DFL State Representative and Senator).

Outlook:
The 7th Congressional District has the second largest GOP tilt in the Gopher State at +3 points. John McCain carried the district by 7 points in 2008 while George W. Bush won it by 12 points in 2004. Tim Pawlenty also carried the district by a decisive 8.4 points in 2006.

Despite its conservative tendencies, Republicans have not offered up a competitive candidate against Peterson in the district over the last six election cycles. As a result, since redistricting in 2002, Peterson has enjoyed a 37.1-point average margin of victory.

Byberg offers Republicans their best shot to reach 40 percent in the district in 16 years, although the third party and independent candidacies of Menze and Waldorf respectively may make that difficult.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 6th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

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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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