Call it a cross-border raid.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, the dean of the Minnesota Republican House delegation, is headed to northern Minnesota Friday to campaign against DFLer Jim Oberstar, one of the longest-serving members of the U.S. House and the dean of the Minnesota delegation.
The trip comes as the 8th District race between Oberstar and GOP upstart Chip Cravaack escalates into a full-blown ad war, with both sides pumping six-figure sums into television advertising.
It’s also a sign of the respect Cravaack is getting in the GOP political orbit, where a win in Minnesota’s flinty Iron Range was once considered unthinkable.
Now, with the Democrats expected to lose 50 or more seats in Congress, and long-term incumbents a particularly endangered species, Kline appears inclined to spend a little capital on a political newbie nobody had heard of a few months ago.
It’s not the first time that Kline, who seems to have little to worry about in his own re-election bid, has stepped into another U.S. House race in the state. A close ally of potential future House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Kline was in Rochester and Owatonna earlier this month with GOP candidate Randy Demmer, who is challenging DFL incumbent Tim Walz.
Not that the Democrats haven’t returned the favor. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum has campaigned for Kline’s opponent, DFLer Shelley Madore.
Whatever happens in the 8th, a GOP takeover of the U.S. House would make Kline the chairman of the House education and labor committee. Oberstar, who was first elected to Congress in 1974, must still be favored in the race. But a GOP takeover would cost him the gavel of the House transportation committee.
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