Northern Minnesota was a Democratic stronghold roughly since time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. The late DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar represented Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District encompassing the area for 18 terms, from 1975 to 2011. He went down in the anti-Obama wave in the 2010 midterm elections. In 2012, however, Obama carried the district 51-46. In something of a seismic shift in 2016, candidate Trump carried the district by a 54-38 margin. The Duluth Tribune took a look at the omens in its post-election analysis. In 2018, Republican Pete Stauber picked up the Eighth District seat.
Vice President Pence made a campaign stop at Clure Public Marine Terminal yesterday in Duluth. Republican senatorial candidate Jason Lewis was on hand. As John has noted, Jason is working outstate Minnesota hard. Duluth itself, in St. Louis County, remains a Democratic bastion, but Pence’s stop sought to play to Trump’s strength elsewhere in the district.
In Bob Dylan country on the Iron Range, the times they are a-changin’. Pence made news — news featured in the Alpha News story on Pence’s visit, although buried in the Star Tribune story. After an appeal to Democrats for their support, Pence revealed that six Democratic mayors from northern Minnesota have endorsed Trump for reelection: Ely Mayor Chuck Novak, Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson, Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe, Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich, Chisholm Mayor John Champa, and Eveleth Mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich. For good measure, Pence also thanked former Duluth Mayor Gary Doty and his family for supporting Trump. The mayors’ letter of endorsement is posted here.
Democrats will carry Minneapolis and St. Paul massively. The state will be won or lost in the suburbs, where Trump has turned off women voters. In the 2016 presidential election, 43.7 percent of votes in Minnesota were cast in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area excluding Minneapolis and St. Paul. Greta Kaul’s analysis for MinnPost does an excellent job of clarifying the lay of the land. As Minnesota becomes a somewhat improbable battleground state this year, Kaul’s analysis makes a good guide to the action.