6 of state's U.S. House incumbents sure to keep seats

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 7, 2012 - 10:13 AM

Walz, McCollum, Ellison, Peterson, Paulsen, Kline are returning to Washington.

WASHINGTON - Six of Minnesota's congressional incumbents retained their seats Tuesday, most of them capturing decisive victories to win re-election to the U.S. House.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Collin Peterson, and Republicans Erik Paulsen and John Kline will return to a Congress, that in large part, is unchanged by the election.

Nationally, Republicans were poised Tuesday to retain control of the House, and Democrats seemed likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate.

Minnesota's other two incumbent House members, Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Chip Cravaack, were locked in tight races.

Here's a look at the state's lower-profile congressional elections:

First District

Walz won a decisive victory over former Republican state Rep. Allen Quist, who ran an almost entirely self-funded campaign in this southern Minnesota district.

Walz emphasized his support for veterans and efforts to block insider trading on Capitol Hill. Quist has criticized Walz's support of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law, and Congress' inability to trim the federal deficit.

Second District

Kline, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Education and the Workforce, held off a spirited challenge from Democrat Mike Obermueller, a former state representative.

Even as Obermueller failed to take advantage of redistricting, which stripped the south-metro congressional district of several Republican-leaning areas, voters should expect to see him again.

Obermueller has already pledged to run in 2014.

Third District

Paulsen, a pro-free-trade, anti-regulation fiscal conservative, easily beat Democrat and political newcomer Brian Barnes.

Barnes, a sales and marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company, tried to portray Paulsen as too conservative for the suburban district, which covers most of the suburbs west of Minneapolis.

Fourth District

McCollum, a six-term incumbent, beat back a challenge from Republican Tony Hernandez, who attacked McCollum for her opposition to the new four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River.

Republicans have not held the seat, which includes St. Paul and some east-metro suburbs, since the late 1940s.

Fifth District

Ellison, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a collection of the most liberal Democrats in Congress, defeated retired Marine and first-time office-seeker Chris Fields.

The district, which includes Minneapolis, is the state's most ethnically diverse and Democratic-leaning.

Seventh District

For the second time in two years, Peterson beat biotech executive Lee Byberg, the Republican candidate he defeated in 2010.

A conservative Democrat with clout in the agriculture community, Peterson took issue with Byberg's accusations that he is out of touch with family farmers in this mostly rural district, which stretches across western Minnesota.

Corey Mitchell • 202-383-6121

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