Stauber sworn into Congress for Minnesota’s 8th District

Rep. Pete Stauber at his new office in Washington, D.C. (PHOTO: @PeteStauber Twitter feed)

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN8) took office today with the new United States House of Representatives.

Like his predecessor Rick Nolan, Stauber will enter office in the minority. Democrats took the House in last November’s landslide, but the so-called “Blue Wave” crested well south of Northern Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.

Here, changing demographics, a friendlier environment for President Trump’s policies, and an increasingly conservative southern half of the district gave Stauber a slim but solid lead on Election Night. Until then, the 8th had been considered one of the nation’s most competitive swing districts. Now, it would rightly be considered Republican leaning.

Stauber has handled his time between the election and entering office like a pro. He’s been relatively quiet. He’s met with constituents and interest groups across the spectrum. He avoided saying or doing anything controversial.

Indeed, that’s probably an indication that he’ll be a tough incumbent to beat in 2020. Yes, more people will vote in a presidential election, and it’s possible that President Trump will become even less popular than he is now.

But a mellow Stauber, one who votes conservatively but comes across as a moderate, becomes exactly the kind of candidate who could hold onto this district for a long time. It will take a special candidate to unseat him, or perhaps more accurately a special political situation.

Then, of course, Minnesota could lose its 8th Congressional District in the 2022 redistricting. But that’s a story for another time.


  1. I thought it was quite telling that at the last DFL state central committee meeting there were multiple mentions of taking back the 1st in the next election (and how great Dan Feehan is, which I agree with) and nothing about the 8th.

  2. Underlying data from down ticket elections makes CD8 appear to be, at least for now, safe GOP. The electoral weight of the conservative southern half to the district cancels out the DFL strength on the Range and in Duluth and its environs. 2020 should be safe for Stauber, baring a significantly worse rout of the Trump forces than even 2018.

    However, CD8 is a very temporary feature on the political landscape. MN will almost certainly lose a congressional seat after the 2020 census, so there will be no more 8th District. How the balance is worked out remains to be seen. Given the fact that a GOP Wisconsin style gerrymander is off the table with the election of Walz, redistricting will see either a neutral redistricting or a DFL gerrymander, although many DFLers — Rep. Jen Schultz is a leader in this — are suggesting the permanent creation of a politically neutral board to handle all redistricting for MN in the future.

    My bet is this: there will be some fiddling in the Metro area, but the composition of CD2, CD3, CD4, and CD5 will be much the same. CD1 will need to pick up population, and will most likely gain DFL votes from the southern Metro to do that. CD6 will be largely intact and for now safe GOP. Just how a new CD7 is structured will be critical for the future of Stauber and the GOP in the area. The preservation of CD6 as safe GOP presumes giving up some votes from the Metro suburbs and exurbs in exchange for picking up votes from the southern parts of existing CD7 and CD8. That raises a potential for a CD7 with a lot more risk for the GOP, essentially a band all the way across the north with a long dip in the east into the Metro region. That would make CD8 the most competitive of the MN districts, baring some change in direction by major blocks of the electorate here and elsewhere.

  3. David Gray says

    I’ve anticipated Minnesota losing a congressional seat since the last census. However I’ve glanced at some commentary that says this may not be so. Regrettably I was in a hurry and didn’t see what argument is being made.

    • Minnesota benefitted from the Great Recession in retaining its seat in 2010, because both Florida and Arizona experienced loss of population beginning in 2007 due to being epicenters of the economic collapse. Both had been on a path to acquire a bunch of new seats, and the loss of population at the end of the decade blunted their population growth just enough so that MN squeaked in in retaining the 8th — we were second from the bottom in terms of qualifying to not lose seats.

      Population in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona has grown fast enough in the last decade to deal us out. Our population is growing,, but at a slower rate than the country.

      Of course, we do have two more years to run, since at this point in early 2009 it still looked like we would lose a seat. Some sort of economic crash that encouraged outmigration from the rapidly growing states would be necessary to save us.

      The one thing that could be a wild card is efforts to repress the counting of immigrants. MN has a low number of immigrants, whereas most of the rapidly growing sunbelt states have large populations, If a lot of them remain uncounted, we would be potential beneficiaries.

      I will attach some reference links to a second email, but that will be delayed as it goes through vetting by Aaron’s system.

  4. One other thing worth noting.

    If somehow MN does retain eight seats, CD8 faces the problem of having had the slowest growth of all the existing MN districts, falling well behind Metro districts, CD1, and CD6 and slightly behind even CD7. That would mean we would need an infusion of population, almost undoubtedly by dipping deeper into the Metro. Impact on GOP versus DFL would depend on just where they got the population from, and what trends are in the outer ring of suburbs. But either way, it would reduce the importance of the Range and Duluth in the district even more than already has happened.

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