Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Minnesota DFL 8th CD Primary Sets Statewide Record in Post-Merger Era

Bookmark and Share

The last time the margin between first and third place was less than nine points in a Minnesota U.S. House primary race was 1942

ricknolan10.jpgRick Nolan's victory last week in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District DFL primary had many story lines:

· A surprising congressional run continues for a former three-term U.S. Representative more than 30 years removed from his last victory (Nolan).

· A former Michele Bachmann challenger fails after her decision to pack her bags and seek a congressional seat in seemingly more DFL-friendly waters (Tarryl Clark).

· A Republican incumbent waits in the wings defending a seat that is particularly vulnerable due in part to a (politically) risky family decision to move to New Hampshire (Chip Cravaack).

But the race also added another chapter to Minnesota electoral history - leaving a mark that had never previously been seen in the 68-year DFL era.

A Smart Politics review of Minnesota primary U.S. House election results finds that the state's 2012 8th CD DFL primary race was the closest first-to-third finish of either major party since the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties in 1944.

Since 1944, there have been 281 U.S. House general elections in Minnesota, with more than 550 races to become the DFL and Republican nominees.

In recent years, many of these primaries have been uncontested, but over the decades hundreds of races found multiple challengers on the primary ballot.

And while Rick Nolan's defeat of Tarryl Clark by 6.1 points is far from record-breaking, what is noteworthy is the historically slim distance between Nolan and third place finisher, Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson.

Anderson lost to Nolan by only 8.8 points, which is the narrowest first-to-third place margin in a primary by either major party in the state across the 68 years since the DFL merger.

Only a few primary contests have come close:

· In 1986, the 3rd CD DFL primary found Ray Stock winning with 38.8 percent, Joel Saliterman at 34.4 percent, and Stan Bentz at 26.8 percent for a 12.0-point first-to-third margin.

· In 1952, the 3rd CD Republican primary was won by Ed Willow with 36.7 percent with Reuben Erickson in second at 35.2 percent and John Alexander in third at 23.8 percent (a 12.9-point gap).

· In 1948, the 8th CD Republican primary found William Berlin defeating former U.S. Rep. William Pittenger by a 37.0 to 35.7 percent margin, with James Vaughan in third place at 27.3 percent (9.7 points behind the winner).

· In 1944, the 8th CD DFL primary was won by William McKinnon with 33.7 percent, E.J. Larsen at 25.0 percent, and Arthur Smythe at 22.4 percent (11.3 points back).

The last time the difference between first and third place was less than 8.8 points in a Minnesota U.S. House primary election was was in 1942 - two years before the DFL merger.

In the Republican primary of the 9th CD that cycle, John Paddon won a five-candidate race with just 28.7 percent of the vote with Ole Sageng at 22.4 percent and E.L. Tungseth at 20.0 percent - 8.7 points behind Paddon. (Philip Monson came in fourth with 19.6 percent and Henry Nycklemoe fifth at 9.3 percent).

Farmer-Laborite (later turned Republican) Harold Hagen defeated Padden by 0.8 points in the general election with no Democratic candidate in the race.

Interestingly, none of these aforementioned primary winners emerged from their narrow plurality victories to win their respective general election race.

Nolan hopes to change that in his 2012 comeback bid.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Rick Nolan, Meet Ernest Lundeen
Next post: Ryan Seeks to Become 1st GOPer to Simultaneously Win VP and Congressional Seat

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting