Republican Tom Emmer, who failed in his bid to be Minnesota’s governor four years ago, won the seat being vacated by Rep. Michele Bachmann in the conservative Sixth Congressional District, ushering in an era that Emmer vows will be marked with civility and service to constituents.
Emmer, who was known as a fiery state legislator, has simmered down this election season, touting conservative messages of fiscal responsibility and a willingness to reach across the aisle.
He also pledged to bring federal money back home to repair local highways. In one television ad, Emmer was shown midair in a helicopter saying this is not how people get to work and that Washington needed to help the district fix its roads.
On Tuesday, Emmer said he was humbled. “Let’s go out and make some changes,” he told a crowd gathered at the GOP victory party.
Emmer won by a resounding margin of 18 percentage points -- 56 percent to 38 percent.
Emmer ran against Democrat Joe Perske, the mayor of Sartell, a plucky marathon runner who said he wanted to be part of a more civil conversation in Washington. Perske is a teacher and an abortion opponent, and he canvassed parades and county fairs, running against Emmer’s divisive past as a state lawmaker. John Denney, an independent candidate, ran left of Perske, endorsing abortion rights and campaign finance reform. He garnered $4,955 in campaign contributions.
In the mostly rural southern band along the Iowa border, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz seized victory against Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn, who won the primary even though he wasn’t the endorsed candidate out of the GOP convention in May.
Walz, who serves on the Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Transportation committees, will return for his fifth term.
Republican Rep. John Kline, chair of the powerful House Education Committee, won a seventh term serving the state’s south suburban residents.
Despite liberal HBO host Bill Maher picking the Second in his “Flip a District” contest, Kline outraised his Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller $2.6 million to $883,000. Maher, in a recent interview, couldn’t remember Obermueller’s name.
“There’s still a lot at stake,” Kline said, in a victory speech Tuesday. “It looks like we are going to have a Republican majority in the Senate … Thank God that will change the nature of what happens in D.C.”
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen won his fourth term in Congress by handily defeating Democrat Sharon Sund. The state’s western and northern suburban district covers Bloomington and Wayzata and reaches north toward Coon Rapids. Paulsen, who raised more than $3 million to Sund’s $156,000, is a member of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, which directs tax policy. He appeared on stage Tuesday with his daughters.
“We’re going to turn this country around … and get our economy back on track,” he said.
This heavily Democratic district that includes St. Paul has been led by Rep. Betty McCollum since 2001. McCollum has quietly climbed the ranks to become one of the most powerful Democrats on one of the most powerful committees in the House.
McCollum raised the least money of any Minnesota incumbent this cycle but still didn’t face a fierce battle from Sharna Wahlgren, the GOP-endorsed candidate.
On Tuesday, she said that while the Democrats “remain a minority party and it’s disappointing,” she said she will work “toward compromise” in Congress.
The Democrats rule this district, which is represented by Rep. Keith Ellison and is considered among the most left-leaning districts in the country.
Ellison, who was running against Republican software executive Doug Daggett, easily retained his seat. He worked the district like he was threatened, canvassing Minneapolis neighborhoods and college dormitories, strumming his guitar and trying to get people excited about politics.
In 2012, Ellison was among the top vote-getters in all of Congress.