Pete Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner and retired Duluth police officer, won the Eighth Congressional District race late Tuesday, becoming the second Republican to hold the seat in 71 years.
The 27,000-square-mile district has long been a DFL stronghold, with Democrats holding the seat for 69 of those 71 years. But Stauber jumped out to an early lead over Joe Radinovich, a former state legislator and Democratic strategist. Stauber tapped into shifting political sentiment in a district that President Donald Trump won by 16 points in 2016. Republicans were eager to flip the seat after the retirement announcement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, prompting visits from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Stauber wasn’t available for comment.
Stauber and Radinovich spent months crisscrossing the northeastern Minnesota district, which includes Duluth and the Iron Range, stretching south to cities like North Branch. The race drew a slew of TV ads and about $9 million in outside spending.
On the campaign trail, Stauber, 52, of Hermantown, called himself a pro-union Republican and touted his police career. He vowed to keep up the economic “revitalization” after federal tax cuts and weathered criticism for sending e-mails from his county account for political activity.
Radinovich, 32, a former union organizer who worked for Nolan as his campaign manager in 2016, faced an onslaught of attack ads, targeting his past parking and speeding tickets and a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge for marijuana as a teen.