By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vice President Mike Pence landed in the Twin Cities Tuesday night for a fundraising event for his political action committee.

The goal is to make sure Republicans hold control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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The vice president’s visit comes just seven months before one of the most volatile midterm elections in state history.

Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, who has been to the White House three times in the past year, says Pence’s visit is just another indication of how much national Republicans are watching Minnesota.

“The fact that the vice president is coming into Minnesota before the end of March is a big deal because it is showing that the national focus, from a strategic perspective, is on Minnesota for national Republicans,” she said.

Political analyst Larry Jacobs says both parties believe Minnesota voters could determine who controls the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the U.S. Senate.

“Minnesota could well be a firewall for Republicans to hold their majorities in Congress,” he said.

Four of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts are considered toss ups.

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Of the four, two of them, Minnesota’s 1st and 8th congressional districts, are rare open seats, currently held by Democrats Rick Nolan, who is retiring, and Tim Walz, who is running for governor.

Both Walz and Nolan won narrow victories in 2016, leaving Republicans convinced they can win.

“Having congressman Nolan resign unexpectedly makes it the number one or number two top pick up opportunity in the country for Republicans,” Carnahan said.

In the tumultuous Trump White House, the vice president’s popularity continues to grow.

“Mike Pence may be the most important asset Republicans have, Donald Trump is clearly distracted on a number of fronts,” Jacobs said.

On Wednesday morning, the vice president will be speaking at the Minneapolis Convention Center about how the administration’s tax cut will impact Minnesota.

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Minnesota’s three Republican members of Congress – Reps. Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen — will all be there.

Esme Murphy