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Contentious Nolan/Cravaack Battle Closely Watched Nationwide

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s among the most closely watched Congressional races in the country — Minnesota’s Eighth District race between Democrat Rick Nolan and Republican Chip Cravaack is too close to call.

And on Wednesday, the two candidates squared off for their final debate.

The Eighth District was held by Democrats for 60 years, until Republican Chip Cravaack won it two years ago.

And Democrats want to win it back — badly.

Polls show it’s too close to call.

And outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into the race — $7.7 million so far in television advertising, most of it is very negative.

That makes it among the most expensive Congressional races in the country.

Nolan said Cravaack is protecting the rich by opposing repeal of the Bush tax cuts.

But Cravaack says he’s protecting small business owners who create jobs.

“If that is to occur, then it is at the cost of 710,000 jobs throughout the country,” Cravaack said.

Nolan responded.

“Pro-growth tax policies, as the Congressman refers to, has become really a euphemism for letting the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class in this country gets crushed,” Nolan said.

In recent weeks, Democrats have hammered Cravaack on residency issues. And Republicans say Nolan isn’t sensitive to union mining issues.

It might be one of the races we don’t know the outcome of until late night/early morning.

By most accounts, this race could be an upset in the making. It’s very rare that incumbent members of Congress lose their seats.

It’s also very rare that Congressional seats change parties.

At least 80 percent of incumbent members of Congress have been re-elected in the last 50 years.

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