Five GOP candidates seek Oberstar’s seat

After a couple cycles where the GOP candidate for the 8th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) emerged late in the process, I just realized that five announced Republican candidates are running this year. I knew that 2008 nominee Michael Cummins from Isanti and Justin Eichorn of Grand Rapids were running, both are businesspeople, but the other three were news to me. The rest of the field includes Hibbing special education teacher Rob Farnsworth, Duluth airline pilot Chip Cravaack, and Chisago City business owner Darrel Trulson. WDIO has excerpts from a recent debate. All would constitute political outsiders and a little research shows that some of them have interesting profiles. This demonstrates more enthusiasm from GOP party regulars than has been seen recently when party bosses tried and failed to get plausible candidates to run at the last minute.

Nevertheless, the electoral math of the 8th CD remains largely the same, regardless of the national mood. Oberstar, a pro-life, pro-gun labor Democrat, has enjoyed wide victory margins in his stunning 36-year tenure. If you think this year’s GOP field is large, wait until you see the size of both DFL and Republican fields if and when Oberstar retires (a prospect that remains planted firmly on a distant, unknown horizon).


  1. Our blogging colleague Phoenix Woman, who posts at Mercury Rising and FireDogLake, dubbed this strategy “the clown car syndrome” when it was first tried against Walz in 2008.

    The press was quick to get in line with the Republican narrative frame that lots of candidates equaled a vulnerable incumbent (and given Walz’s surprise win and the nature of the district, not unreasonable at first). Walz closed with a 62.5% win, a DFL win in the First exceeded only by Penny’s earlier drubbing of Droogsma.

    Walz’s 2008 cycle opponents declared early in 2007; not so this year with the GOP gaggles in the 1st, 7th and 8th.

    Given that late entry of challengers to Walz, Peterson and Oberstar, the phrase “clown car syndrome” has become all the more apt.

    For myself, I’ll be using a journalist’s acceptance or scrutiny of the MNGOP frame as a test of that writer’s laziness, integrity and mental acumen.

    Those who actually examine a district’s profile and campaign coffers will get a gold star. Those who uncritically accept the notion that a large and peculiar field indicates an incumbent is in trouble deserve public ridicule on twitter as press release lackeys.

  2. A fair point, Sally. Actually, I think this particular field of candidates shows the problem any campaign, D or R, has in the district. It’s hard to form the geographic coalition you’d need to win. Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Duluth, Isanti and Chisago City. Those are all very different places with very different political arenas.

  3. Anonymous says

    Hi Folks,

    It’s not going to be the same race this fall as Jim has probably lost his Pro-Life backers (due to the Stupak group caving in at the last minute) which might mean an interesting contest this year.

    Time will tell.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.