MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was one of the most closely-watched races in the state this year, but in the end, Republican Pete Stauber held off Democrat Joe Radinovich and Independent Ray “Skip” Sandman to take Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
Minnesota’s 8th has taken on a life of its own, politically speaking, in the last few election cycles. Once a reliable DFL stronghold — it was represented by Democrats for a span of 64 years until 2010 — it has become something of a toss-up. Democrat Jim Oberstar notably lost his re-election bid in the 2010 midterms against Republican Chip Cravaack, who served one term before being defeated in the 2012 elections by the DFL’s Rick Nolan.
It was also one of those much-reported-upon districts that went for Barack Obama in 2012 before turning around and opting for Donald Trump in 2016, by a 15-point margin.
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The district covers a large territory dominated by mining and lumber work, and both Radinovich and Stauber made it a point to speak to a voting block that has seen jobs evaporate. The Star Tribune reported Radinovich quoting the number of miners handling 40 million tons of ore at 14,500 in 1980, compared to 4,500 today. The paper also quoted Stauber as touting his credentials as a pro-union Republican.
At the same time, it was also one of the most contentious races in all of Minnesota, with both major candidates spending in excess of $1 million, alongside reported outside spending from groups such as America First Action (opposing Radinovich) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (opposing Stauber).
The race was tracked by the New York Times. A poll in September showed Radinovich with a one-point lead on Stauber, but a subsequent poll released within days of the election showed Stauber with a commanding 15-point lead on Radinovich.