Chip Cravaack pulled off one of the most stunning political upsets in Minnesota history, knocking off 18-term U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in the 8th Congressional District. The GOP challenger received 48 percent of the vote, besting the incumbent by nearly 5,000 votes.
A month ago the contest was attracting virtually no media attention and didn’t show up on any of the lists of competitive House contests. Oberstar had never won re-election by less than 29 points in his nearly four-decade congressional career. But after Cravaack’s campaign released an internal poll showing the contest a statistical dead heat, political observers took notice.
Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was one of three powerful committee chairmen to go down to defeat on Tuesday. Joining him in retirement are Reps. Ike Skelton (Arkansas), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and John Spratt (South Carolina), chair of the House Committee on the Budget.
The rest of Minnesota’s congressional delegation survived the tumultuous 2010 election season. Rep. Tim Walz looked to potentially be in the greatest danger, with independent political groups spending thousands of dollars on television ads attacking him. But the two-term DFLer prevailed by a 49-44 percent margin over state Rep. Randy Demmer, of Hayfield.
The most expensive congressional contest in the country ended up being a rout. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and DFL challenger Tarryl Clark raised more than $15 million combined, but the incumbent sailed to a 13-point victory.