With help from Trump and the economy, Stauber turns CD8 red

Pete Stauber election night
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Peter Stauber being congratulated by his wife during Tuesday night's gathering in Proctor.

The 8th Congressional District was, as expected, the brightest spot for Minnesota Republicans on election night. Pete Stauber will be the district’s next congressman, beating DFLer Joe Radinovich 51 to 45 percent to replace retiring DFL Rep. Rick Nolan. Independence Party candidate Skip Sandman captured 4 percent of the vote.

The race was considered a toss-up from its start. While Radinovich hammered the health care issue, Stauber stayed on focused on jobs and the economy. “Tonight you voted to unleash the economic engine in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District,” he told his supporters who had gathered in Proctor.

The 8th District, which covers nearly the entire northeastern third of Minnesota, was won by President Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. It appears that Stauber maintained a fraction of that support in 2018, which he acknowledged was part of his victory margin. “I think the intensity for our president is as good if not better than on election night,” Stauber said to a group of reporters. “He’s done some really good things. Our jobs and economy are up. Our small businesses and manufacturing are doing very well.”

Contributing equally if not more to Stauber’s victory was his local bona fides. With a civically active family and his solid reputation as a St. Louis County commissioner and a commander in the Duluth police department, Stauber seemed to have a half-degree separation from any given voter in the district. “I knew the family,” was the phrase most often used in voter interviews on election day.

“I know him.  He was my husband’s boss [on the Duluth police force],” said Jeanne Shermer of Fish Lake.  “He was honest, good and kind and looked out for the men and women who worked for him.”

Health care was the top concern of Mary Verhel of Duluth, but she also voted for Stuaber. “I have strong opinions about issues, particularly health care. But I know the family,” she said. “I voted for Stauber because I didn’t like the way his opponents were presenting him.”

Stauber also benefited from a massive influx of independent spending in support of his campaign, most of it negative ads aimed at Radinovich, who had a history of unpaid parking tickets and traffic violations.

The revelation that Stauber briefly had used the St. Louis County email system to communicate with national Republicans could have stopped some of his campaign’s momentum. But the email disclosure came after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had pulled its independent spending and diverted its resources to other races.

Photo courtesy of Forum News Services
Joe Radinovich speaking to supporters during at a gathering Tuesday night.
Democrats will have control of the U.S. House in January and Stauber will find himself in the minority. Not a problem, he said last night. “Somebody’s got to be in the minority. Somebody has to be in the majority,” he said. “I prided myself my entire life working across the aisle. I said on the campaign trail I was not only to going to reach across the aisle, I was going to get up and walk over and build relations for the betterment of this country.”

Stauber was asked how he can maintain the voter support he won last night. “Northern Minnesota is the tip of the heartland and we care for one another,” he said. “I’m not going to be working just for Republicans. I’m going to be working for every single citizen in the 8th Congressional District.”

Stauber will need to prove that contention. Though the district has been trending Republican in recent years, it still has a long legacy of electing Democrats, and the results of this race suggest another battle two years from now.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by ian wade on 11/07/2018 - 12:28 pm.

    And in two years, as the cyclical nature of mining rears it’s head, the Range will come back to the DFL, much like the end result of the Chip Cravaak experiment.

    • Submitted by Greg Smith on 11/07/2018 - 01:02 pm.

      Not completely analogous.
      He is more a local than Chip, I believe.
      And there is much more than the range in _8

      • Submitted by ian wade on 11/07/2018 - 06:41 pm.

        Stauber’s locality is irrelevant. He’s there based upon fortuitous timing. His political demise will come from the same.

  2. Submitted by David Schimpf on 11/07/2018 - 02:36 pm.

    This take seems to be that the Republicans did a brilliant job here to pull off a flip. But MN CD 8 should have been theirs in most years. The percentage of its voters who are white and lack a college degree is one of the highest of all CDs nationally. The few CDs that have higher such percentages are all reliably Republican. One could just as well argue that Republicans have been underperforming in NE Minn for many elections.

  3. Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/07/2018 - 04:13 pm.

    Can we amend the headline to include “and a s**t-ton of out-of-state money”?

  4. Submitted by Steve & Gayle Fuller on 11/07/2018 - 07:07 pm.

    While the piece mentioned the outside influence it did not quantify that influence. Mr Stauber had help to the tune of $7 million in negative ads targeting Mr Radinovich. Mr Stauber has not acknowledged the help he received from Corporate America; those investors will expect a return on the money spent. Additionally one can only assume he has the same attitudes as his HERO Donald J. Trump, who is a know womanizer, has gone bankrupt multiple times, has ” stiffed” suppliers and cheated investors. If a man of that history is Mr Staubers hero what does that say about Mr Staubers ethics? Only time will tell now; watch him and note his behavior in Washington.

    • Submitted by Mike Schumann on 11/08/2018 - 12:11 pm.

      Why should one automatically assume that just because Mr. Stauber supports Donald Trumps political agenda, he also shares the President’s personal and business attitudes? There are a lot of Trump supporters, who think he is a jerk and are repulsed by his rhetoric and other attributes, but who still enthusiastically endorse the way he is dealing with the economy, trade and immigration issues.

      It’s this knee jerk reaction, labeling everyone who supports the President as a deplorable, which is why the Democratic party is having so many problems in large parts of the country.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 11/08/2018 - 01:12 pm.

        Well, when you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. I find it fascinating that so many conservatives and evangelicals so easily dismiss the man’s character in order to gain financially. As for immigration, what’s happening with that big scary caravan? I haven’t heard a thing since the day before the election.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 11/09/2018 - 10:37 am.

    …..A one-term person….like his protege trump

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 11/10/2018 - 07:59 am.

    There is so much more to CD8 flip up here on the Range than reported at Minnpost. Years of DFL control of IRRRB, nothing to show for it, the DFL has left mining to garner cash from “green” environmental groups, DFL aligned with Teachers Union and not fighting for trades in High School, DFL elected officials leave for St Paul and vote the state ticket (which is anti mining) forgetting who elected them. Folks had enough up here.

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