The Cook Political Report is characterizing the upcoming election battle in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district as a “toss-up.”
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack currently represents the northeastern Minnesota district which was considered a DFL stronghold until Cravaack defeated DFL incumbent Jim Oberstar in 2010. Three Democrats; former Congressman Rick Nolan, Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson and former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, are vying to run against Cravaack.
Democrats in Minnesota and nationally have said that winning the 8th is a priority. Minnesota Republican Party Chair Pat Shortridge said keeping the district in Republican hands is one of his goals. A competitive race means voters in that district should expect a lot of TV ads and campaign mailings in October.
The political handicapper is also rating Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District and Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District “Likely Democratic” and Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District “Likely Republican.”
DFL Rep. Tim Walz represents the 1st District, which includes Rochester, Mankato and other southern Minnesota cities. Two Republicans; state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca and former state Rep. Allen Quist are vying to challenge Walz.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson represents the 7th District which includes Moorhead and the bulk of western Minnesota. Republican Lee Byberg is running for that seat.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann represents Minnesota’s 6th District. No Democrats have announced that they intend to challenge her.
One big caveat is that the congressional boundaries are unlikely to stay in the current shape. A court appointed panel is expected to release a new set of political maps next week that could dramatically alter the state’s political boundaries.