WASHINGTON — Here’s some red meat for political watchers on the final Friday before Congress’ August recess (and lawmakers’ re-election campaigning) begins in earnest: The Cook Political Report, one of the more respected of the D.C. forecasting shops, has shifted its assessment of three Minnesota U.S. House races in Republicans’ favor.
The highlight here is probably the 8th District race between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and businessman Stewart Mills, which Cook now considers a toss-up and potentially “one of the most brutal House races of the year” (Here’s a link to Cook’s write-up of its ratings changes, though it’s behind a paywall). This race has the attention of more people in D.C. than just forecasters: Outside groups have already targeted the race and ads have been on the air hitting both candidates, which is probably a harbinger of how things are going to be between now and Election Day.
It’s worth noting that Cook is among the first major prognosticators to put the race in the toss-up category: my two other favorites, Rothenberg and the University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball, still give the edge to Nolan (but for how long?).
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Cook also moved the 7th District race from a likely hold for Rep. Collin Peterson to a more tenuous “lean Democratic” rating. Peterson is running against state Sen. Torrey Westrom, a challenger considered much stronger than the token opposition Republicans have thrown at Peterson in the past.
Finally, Cook says Rep. John Kline has a solid hold on his seat. They had Kline as a likely winner before, but have moved him completely off their board at this point (as Rothenberg had previously).
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com.