A first-in-a-generation political battle brews up north

The sun rises over the treeline along the eastern horizon, highlighting the steam cloud over Keewatin Taconite. This is the first day in a while mist hasn’t billowed off the lake.The water is cold all the time now. Soon enough it will grow dark and gelatinous, freezing hard and staying that way until sometime around the end of the legislative session.

Welcome to election day in northern Minnesota.This year Minnesota Brown is back on the politics wagon (or, more accurately, off the “no politics” wagon). This is an exciting time to have some inside knowledge about Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District as voters here participate in what could be the first competitive race here in my lifetime. Hell, the older kids who teased me on the bus, even they haven’t seen this before. No matter, as felons they can’t vote. Ha! But seriously …

Jim Oberstar, the veteran DFLer from the Iron Range, is battling hard to keep the congressional seat he first won in 1974 and his crucial chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He’s facing a spirited challenge from Chip Cravaack, a pilot and stay-at-home dad (that’s right, ladies), who has attacked Oberstar from the right as a fiscal and social conservative. Oberstar has never won by less than 18 points, averaging margins in the mid-30s. Now polls show the race neck-and-neck and national Republicans are hoping this district becomes the crest of a GOP wave. Democrats believe that Oberstar holds the line.

On a side note, can I just say that if the GOP takes the House the transportation chair will be Rep. Don (“Bridge to Nowhere) Young of Alaska. And if Oberstar loses but the Democrats retain control the chair will be Nick (“Coal is Delicious and Worthy of Considerable Subsidy”) Rahall of West Virginia. So … you know, don’t expect to get a call tomorrow after you’re invited upstairs tonight, fiscal conservatives.

I’ve written plenty on Oberstar vs. Cravaack (parts 1 and 2 of a profile, and a final recap). I’m just a humble country teacher and writer, but I have made a hobby of studying the voting patterns of northern Minnesota and will be sharing my thoughts tonight as returns come in. You’ll see larger updates here and smaller observations on my Twitter feed @minnesotabrown. You can see the Twitter feed in the right sidebar of this site as well.

Also of note here, Iron Range local races and the monitoring of legislative majorities. I’ll be checking the status of my State of Superior races as well. And so much more!

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