Besides the Presidential race, Minnesota’s eight Congressional seats are up for grabs. To varying degrees and differing dynamics, six of the eight seats are of interest this year. The current delegation favors the Democrats 5-3. It is best to look at the six races of interest in turn.
Covering the southern part of the state from the eastern to western border, the district is currently held by Democrat Tim Walz. He will be opposed by Republican Jim Hagedorn who lost to Walz in 2014 by less than 9 points. It will be hard to replicate that feat this year considering the top of the GOP ticket. However, the district is barely Republican at the top of the ticket and that may possibly be to Hagedorn’s advantage. Still, if it was hard to unseat Walz in a GOP wave year in 2014, his chances are diminished this year. Prediction: Democratic retention.
This district lies to the south of the Minneapolis/St.Paul metropolis along the Wisconsin border. Republican incumbent John Kline is retiring and vacating this seat making it the definition of a battleground this year. Like the neighboring 1st to the south, it is barely Republican when it comes to presidential politics, and Kline has managed to thread the needle and win at the congressional level.
After a contentious primary, Republican radio show host, known for his sometimes controversial statements- Jason Lewis- defeated three fellow Republicans in a low turnout affair in the primary. He will face Angie Craig for the Democrats, an openly lesbian candidate. After two decades on the air, Lewis has provided the Democrats with ample ammunition to attack him. He has complained about “white race suicide” lamenting the fact Latinos have a higher birth rate, complained that women vote based upon who will buy them their diaphragm, and said that, “If you won’t want to own a slave, don’t; but don’t tell others they can’t.” Yep…he is considered the mini-Trump of Minnesota.
It should be noted that Al Franken, a Democrat, barely won this district and the their other Senator, Amy Klobuchar, easily won it. In terms of presidential votes, it is barely Republican. All this adds up to a Democratic victory in November. Prediction: Democratic win and pick up.
This district is the western suburbs of Minneapolis and is currently held by Republican Erik Paulsen. He always seems to have a target on his back and he always seems to win. He is opposed by state senator Terry Bonoff who the Democratic Party is very high on. If anyone can take down Paulsen, they believe Bonoff is the person.
Thus far, Bonoff has been trying to tie Paulsen to Trump while he has tied her to Nancy Pelosi. For the record, Paulsen has not endorsed anyone. Trump will have a very difficult time winning this district and if Paulsen wants to keep his seat, he should distance himself from the Great Pumpkin. To his advantage, he sits on the powerful tax writing Ways and Means Committee. Prediction: The Third may be ready for a change and Terri Bonoff will win a nail biter come Election Day.
This is the northwestern suburbs of the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, the district formerly occupied by Michelle Bachmann and currently by Republican Tom Emmer. Emmer is considered a moderate Republican by most pundits and will face David Snyder for the Democratic Party. Emmer should win this race even though he is a freshman Congressman. This race is on the extreme outer fringes of races to watch only because of his freshman status. Additionally, some saw a slightly leftward tilt in the district, but that was most likely attributable to Emmer’s more polarizing predecessor, Michelle Bachmann. Plus Emmer is an aberration for the GOP: he actually received the endorsement of a union. Prediction: Republican retention.
The massive 7th comprises most of the western half of the state along the border with the Dakotas. Currently represented by Democrat Collin Peterson, he is considered a moderate/populist type of candidate. He will be opposed by former Air Force officer Dave Hughes. Peterson won by less than 9 points in 2014, but he fits the profile of this part of the state. For example, he opposes gay marriage and is pro-life. All in all, Republicans can probably live with Collin Peterson and it will be tough unseating him anyway. Prediction: Peterson gets reelected.
This district encompasses the northeastern half of the state. This will be a rematch between Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan against Republican Stewart Mills, often referred to as “the Brad Pitt of Republicans” because of his looks. Mills barely lost to Nolan in 2014. Scant polling shows Nolan with a slight lead over Mills.
This district has been hurt by the loss of blue collar jobs in recent years which plays nicely into the wheelhouse of Donald Trump’s populist rhetoric. Even among many Democrats, Trump has gained support. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton here in the Democratic primary. Added to the fact that Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has dragged his feet over expanding nickel and copper mining in a district dependent on mining, it is easy to see that Nolan is facing some serious headwinds.
This will be a great race to watch Election night. Everything points to a Mills upset over Nolan and at this point, this writer is predicting just that scenario.
In the presidential sweepstakes, Trump is trailing in the average of polls by 8.75 points. It should be remembered that despite the pockets of Trump support, Rubio won their caucuses with Trump actually finishing third behind Cruz. Rubio’s base of support, however, was in the more populated southern part of the state and the Minneapolis/St. Paul area where Trump will likely get trounced. Ironically, Trump will lose the state and their ten electoral votes, but actually help a Congressional candidate in the Eighth District. Expect Trump to lose by 8-9 points in Minnesota.
After this diary entry, Clinton now leads Trump 97-90 in the electoral vote count. As there was no Senatorial race this year, the GOP maintains their lead 54-46, and although names and parties will change in two districts, it is a wash in the end and the GOP maintains their 246-189 advantage in the lower chamber of Congress.
Tomorrow: New York