By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For politicians, the Fourth of July marks the beginning of the home stretch of political campaigning.

One of the most closely watched races in the entire nation is in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Congressman Erik Paulsen faces stiff competition from State Sen. Terri Bonoff.

Both were at the Edina Parade on Monday.

The Washington Post has named the Paulsen-Bonoff showdown the No. 1 race to watch in the country for the impact of Donald Trump on Republican candidates.

Paulsen has coasted to double digit victories in the Twin Cities western suburbs since his first election in 2008. As he greeted supporters in Edina on Monday, he said he is not worried about Trump dragging down his candidacy.

“There is not a lot of enthusiasm for Trump from some folks and that makes it more difficult, but, ultimately, that makes it more important for us to focus on local, on our own initiatives and things we have gotten done,” he said.

Democrats have recruited Bonoff to run against Paulsen. At the parade, she told supports she is confident she can beat the congressman.

“You can just tell by the reception well,” she said. “People are so enthusiastic.”

But even candidates who aren’t facing tough contests, like Congressman Keith Ellison, were out shaking hands on Independence Day.

“July 4th is the starting gate for a series of intense, energetic, very expensive series of races in Minnesota,” said Larry Jacobs, a political analyst.

Gov. Mark Dayton, who is not up for reelection, was the grand marshal of the Delano parade, the largest Fourth of July parade in the state.

Dayton and top Republicans are expected to campaign across the state in an effort to win control of the state Legislature in November.

“One of the most intense battles will be over who will control the Minnesota State House,” Jacobs said.

The other big races to watch are the race to replace Congressman John Kline in the 2nd Congressional District and the rematch of Stewart Mills and Congressman Rick Nolan in the 8th Congressional District.

In 2014, the Nolan-Mills race was a $17 million race, the sixth most expensive in the nation.

Some $12 million of that money came from donations outside of Minnesota.


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