Mayo Clinic physician Brian Davis decisively defeated state Sen. Dick Day in Tuesday's First Congressional District Republican primary to earn a spot on the November general election ballot.
Davis campaigned from the start as if he were in a face-off against incumbent Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, virtually ignoring Day.
Davis, who won by about a 2-1 ratio, was buttressed by GOP resources after winning party endorsement in March over state Rep. Randy Demmer, R-Hayfield. Day did not seek the party endorsement.
"I wanted to give the voters a choice, and we did that," Day said.
In the days leading up to the primary Davis appeared on TV and radio shows as state party officials organized volunteers to call up to 60,000 voters in the southern Minnesota district. Volunteers waved signs at key intersections in Rochester and Mankato, others door-knocked on his behalf and he hosted rallies on Friday and Monday nights.
Meanwhile, Day, of Owatonna, traveled across the district with a two-person team, meeting with business owners. On Monday, he met with students and faculty at his alma mater, Winona State University. Volunteers delivered pamphlets on Saturday.
Financially, the two were worlds apart: Davis had about $311,084 in cash on hand as of late August; Day had about $45,173.
Davis campaigned hard on reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, advocating for drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and exploring nuclear power. He touted his outsider status, and drew criticism from state DFL leaders who noted that he has never served in public office and lacks community service experience.
Davis has said his degrees and experience in nuclear and mechanical engineering and medicine give him insights in addressing energy and health care issues.
Day banked on his 17 years in the Legislature to translate into victory in what he called the "Day against Goliath" contest. He shares many of Davis' views, such as favoring offshore and ANWR drilling and a hard-line stance on illegal immigration.
Davis benefited greatly from the party endorsement, said Joseph Kunkel, a political science professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Day may be well-known in his Senate district, Kunkel said, "But how well-known is he in Winona? And how well-known is he in Pipestone?"
Davis will face a formidable opponent in Walz, who has about $1.2 million in cash on hand and a fleet of volunteers.
Independence Party candidate Gregory Mikkelson, a farmer from Lake Crystal, is also running for the seat.
IN OTHER RACES:
Independence Party-endorsed candidate David Dillon defeated Steev RamsDell and will face DFLer Ashwin Madia and GOP state Rep. Erik Paulsen for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Republican Jim Ramstad.
"I'm pleased to represent a third view in this campaign," Dillon said.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison turned back a challenge from Gregg Iverson in the DFL primary and will run against Republican Barb Davis White and IP candidate Bill McGaughey.
"I ran it just as hard this time as I did last time," Ellison said Tuesday night, referring to his 2006 campaign. "Tomorrow, we're going to give everybody a break because they worked so hard today. Day after tomorrow, we're going to kick the campaign into high gear."
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann easily defeated challenger Abraham Immelman. She will face DFLer Elwyn Tinklenberg and Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson in November.
Republican Glen Menze, the party's endorsee, narrowly defeated Alan Roebke in the GOP primary and will face DFL incumbent Collin Peterson in November. Menze, an accountant and farmer from Starbuck, lost to Peterson in 2000.
Roebke, of Alexandria, was convicted in 2000 for selling his grain without repaying a loan for commodities raised on his farm. He said he did it to protest "failed U.S. farm policy." He was imprisoned for two years and said it gave him new insight into the struggles of the working class.
Staff writers Randy Furst and Richard Meryhew contributed to this report.
Chao Xiong • 612-673-4391