Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips will return to Congress for a second term, representing a western suburban seat he flipped from Republican control two years ago.
He won over voters by highlighting his bipartisan credentials, defeating political newcomer Kendall Qualls. The GOP candidate had also made appeals to moderate voters as he tried to return the seat to Republican hands.
Phillips swept into office in 2018 as voters in his district and other suburban communities nationwide turned out for Democrats and shifted control of the U.S. House. Many first-term Democratic House members hoped sustained opposition to Trump’s leadership would help boost their re-election bids.
“When the final results are in, my friends, that is when the real hard work will begin,” Phillips said Tuesday night. He stressed that politicians need to address the coronavirus pandemic and bring the state together despite partisan lines.
A Deephaven businessman who helped build the Talenti gelato brand and is heir to the Phillips Distilling Co. fortune, Phillips marketed himself as a candidate who will break through gridlock and refuses to take donations from special interests. He is part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that has worked on resolving differences over key issues such as a coronavirus stimulus package.
The crescent-shaped Third District stretches from Bloomington to Coon Rapids. Hillary Clinton won the area by nearly 10 percentage points in 2016, and many political forecasters rated the congressional district as safely Democratic headed into Election Day.
Qualls, a health care I.T. executive and Army veteran from Medina, ran on his experience overcoming adversity and his leadership style.