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National Republicans on upset alert in Oberstar-Cravaack race

WASHINGTON — On the heels of an internal poll showing him within three percentage points of long-time Rep. Jim Oberstar, national Republicans have elevated Chip Cravaack to the first tier of their Young Guns program, which aims to assist GOP challengers in unseating Democratic incumbents.

“The NRCC is committed to working with Chip Cravaack as he continues to meet the rigorous goals of the Young Guns program,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions in a statement. “Chip is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to create jobs and rein in government spending. I am confident that Chip has what it takes to take on Jim Oberstar, an out-of-touch Washington politician solely focused on his party’s failed big-government, big-spending agenda.”

If the 8th is actually in play, it would defy the predictions of every major national election handicapper — they’ve all got the 8th District as safe for Oberstar. Nate Silver, founder of, gives Oberstar a 99.9 percent chance of holding the seat.

According to an Associated Press report, Cravaack has raised $230,000 and has $120,000 cash on hand. Oberstar, meanwhile, has raised $1.5 million and has $571,000 left in the bank.

Cravaack has seen increased attention since releasing that internal poll — the AP said he’s in a “real race” while the prominent GOP blogger (and Minnesotan) Ed Morrissey declared the seat “in play.”

Oberstar supporters, however, contest the poll as “questionable at best” and say it was prefaced with leading statements designed to push respondents toward Cravaack. There is little way of analyzing the survey in depth, as the full crosstabs have yet to be released.

“Jim never takes reelection for granted, but you have to get out there every even year and state your case to the people about why you deserve to get reelected,” said Oberstar campaign spokesman John Schadl. “Jim has been sent back 18 times, so he’s confident he’ll be able to get sent back again.”

Cravaack is the third Minnesota Republican to make the NRCC’s list. Lee Byberg (challenging Collin Peterson in the 7th) is also on the first tier of the list, while Randy Demmer (challenging Tim Walz in the 1st) sits on the top tier as the GOP’s best hope for an upset winner. While the NRCC will begin airing ads in the 1st on Friday (and helped fund Demmer’s own ads beginning today), the committee had to take out loans to do that, so additional financial support to candidates like Byberg and Cravaack is doubtful at best.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/07/2010 - 03:40 pm.

    I wouldn’t get too worried. This has already been revealed to have been “push” poll sponsored by Cravaack, himself and, as such, has about as much credibility as Becky’s take on World History.

    The polling company won’t even reveal their methodology, their data, nor their questions. With an approach like that, I could make Islam the chosen faith of 85% of citizens of the United States.

  2. Submitted by Joel Reiter on 10/08/2010 - 11:01 am.

    So Greg, if we get a poll from Gallup or NPR or Rasmussen that shows the seat in play, will you believe that? You might not like it if I tell you the bridge is out, but if it’s really out and you still try to drive across it, you’re gonna die. Living in denial can be fatal.

  3. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 10/08/2010 - 12:16 pm.

    Greg is right that this poll sounds like it was meant to form public opinion rather than measure. Still, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a safe seat. I believe that in general, but Republicans were shocked by some incumbents who lost the last couple elections, so it can go the other way I’m sure. Besides, when anyone wonders why a candidate scrapes for every vote when he wins by big margins, maybe that’s why he wins by big margins.

    Besides, every vote Oberstar can turn out helps the rest of the ballot. So consider him as safe as you want, but help him anyway.

  4. Submitted by Maria Loomis on 10/11/2010 - 09:17 pm.

    Voting for republicans and democrats is what has gotten us into this mess. Wouldn’t it be better to actually vote a different and better choice for the 8th Congressional District? Someone who has actually LIVED there his whole life, knows how to run a business and isn’t beholden to the usual party politics. Consider the Constitution Party and George Burton. The 8th would be better off.

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