With popular Republican incumbent Rep. John Kline retiring from his seat in a southern suburban Minnesota district that President Barack Obama carried narrowly in 2008 and 2012, the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report has decided to change its rating of the race from “pure tossup” to “tossup/tilt Democratic.”
Nathan Gonzales goes over the basics of the race (you may not be able to read the full piece without a subscription). He notes that righty talk show personality Jason Lewis “is potentially problematic for Republicans, not just because he is conservative in a moderate district, but because he has a couple of decades of talk shows and writings to be picked apart.” Lewis won the party endorsement, but two other candidates are challenging him in a primary.
Gonzales expects Lewis to survive the primary, but in addition to the rich trove of extreme-sounding things Lewis has said over the years on the radio, he also notes that Lewis “had just $111,000 in the bank on March 31, adding to some earlier concerns that the talk show host wouldn’t transition to becoming a candidate particularly well.”
By contrast, Democratic candidate Angie Craig, a St. Jude Medical executive, faced no serious opposition for the endorsement and has no primary opponent. Gonzales wrote that Craig “is probably to the left of the district in her ideology, but she has a good story to tell, is raising considerable money (she had $1.3 million in the bank at the end of March) and is solid as a candidate.”
Even if Gonzales is correct, a “toss-up/tilt” rating isn’t a huge change from pure toss-up. Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats to take over the House, which is a heavy lift, but if a big blue wave develops in this unpredictable year, Gonzales expects Minnesota’s Second District to be part of it.
Charlie Cook, who runs another rating newsletter, lists the Second District under “Republican Toss-up.” Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” site lists the race as a pure toss-up. Rothenberg/Gonzales is the most recent update, issued today. We’ll see if others follow suit.