ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota will feature several competitive U.S. House races in 2018, and candidates are already lining up to run.
Normally a sleepy state during election season thanks to its reputation as a Democratic stronghold, the tides have changed, and Minnesota could field four or more close congressional races in next year’s midterm elections.
Here’s a look at some of the races:
1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Once considered a lock for its popular incumbent, an open seat in this southern Minnesota district combined with a surprisingly close call in November that almost unseated Rep. Tim Walz make Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District a must-watch for 2018.
Walz is out after barely defeating Republican Jim Hagedorn last year, as the six-term Democrat instead seeks the governor’s office. Hagedorn had already announced he’ll run again.
Democrats will have to fight it out with each other first.
Dan Feehan, an Iraq War veteran and former Pentagon official, is the latest DFLer to enter the race. He joins former state Sen. Vicki Jensen, high school teacher John Austinson, former restaurant owner Colin Minehart and ardent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporter Johnny Akzam in seeking the Democratic nomination.
Feehan and fellow Democrats are betting that Hagedorn’s strong showing last year was a fluke.
“2016 I will ultimately see as a blip in what this district has been,” Feehan said last week.
2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
One of the state’s closest swing districts should also remain competitive.
Rep. Jason Lewis parlayed his career as a well-known conservative radio host into the suburban Congressional seat, taking over after longtime GOP Rep. John Kline retired. Outside political groups spent nearly $7 million on the race, which was widely regarded as a tossup thanks to the area’s 50-50 partisan split.
Rosemount teacher and football coach Jeff Erdmann launched his Democratic campaign to unseat Lewis this spring. Angie Craig, the former medical device executive who narrowly lost to Lewis in 2016, hasn’t said whether she’ll run again in 2018.
3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
The race for Minnesota’s wealthiest congressional district may be a rematch — if not in names, then by strategy.
National Democrats recruited Dean Phillips to try unseating Rep. Erik Paulsen from the west suburban seat. Phillips is a prominent businessman with hands in a Minneapolis coffee shop and Talenti Gelato who previously ran his family’s massive alcohol company, Phillips Distilling Co.
Democrats already tried tying Paulsen to Trump, only to watch the brash presidential candidate eke out a win and the congressman cruise to an easy victory in November. But Phillips and his party are betting that it will play out differently in the district and across the nation after two years of Trump in office.
8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
After back-to-back multi-million dollar races, there could be a change of faces in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber announced Monday that he’ll run as a Republican to unseat Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan in the northeastern Minnesota district. A longtime police officer in Duluth with a well-known name in the area, Stauber could pick up critical votes in the region’s urban core.
Nolan hung on to his seat in 2014 and 2016, narrowly defeating GOP candidate Stewart Mills as more than $30 million combined in attack ads from outside political groups poured in. Nolan, who first won the seat in 2012 to start a second stint in Congress, is in for another race after opting not to run for governor.
Once considered a Democratic stronghold, the Iron Range district has become a pure swing seat and among the most expensive races in the country.
Mills said he’s waiting to see how 2017 shakes out before deciding on a third attempt next year. Several other Democratic candidates are still mulling bids.
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