U.S. House members from the Gopher State have also won 291 of 292 primaries since 1942
Another primary has come and gone in Minnesota and there was once again little drama for the seven members of the state’s U.S. House delegation seeking renomination this cycle.
Four members ran uncontested: Republican Erik Paulsen and DFLers Tim Walz, Collin Peterson, and Rick Nolan.
Three other U.S. Representatives faced five little known challengers who collectively raised less than $30K: DFLer Steve Carlson in the 4th CD (taking on Betty McCollum), DFLers Lee Bauer and Gregg Iverson in the 5th CD (Keith Ellison), and Republicans Patrick Munro and A.J. Kern in the 6th CD (Tom Emmer).
As a result, McCollum, Ellison, and Emmer cruised to their respective primary victories – although Emmer’s support was nonetheless historically weak – continuing a winning streak begun by their predecessors more than half a century ago.
A Smart Politics review of primary election data finds that Minnesota U.S. Representatives running for reelection have now won 198 consecutive renomination bids through 2016 – a streak that began in 1964.
During this 52-year span, 49 of these 198 incumbents faced at least one primary challenger, or 24.7 percent – a bit higher than neighboring Wisconsin which has seen 39 of 224 incumbents run in a contested primary during this period (17.4 percent). These 49 incumbents averaged 83.9 percent of the primary vote.
The last incumbent to lose a renomination bid was was 12-term Congressman H. Carl Andersen in 1962. After reapportionment following the 1960 Census, the Gopher State lost a seat in the nation’s lower legislative chamber and Andersen was redistricted from the 7th CD to the 6th CD.
Andersen’s opponent for the Republican nomination that cycle was former state legislator Bob Odegard who defeated the incumbent by 27.4 points and carried 14 of the district’s 19 counties.
Prior to Andersen, one has to go all the way back to before the nation’s involvement in World War II to find the last U.S. Representative to lose a primary in the state.
Republican freshman John Alexander faced two primary challengers in the 3rd CD race that September including legislator Dick Gale.
Gale beat Alexander by 14 points with 50 percent of the vote with C.L. Berggren in a distant third at 14 percent. Congressman Alexander did not go quietly into the night and instead launched a bid as an independent Republican, but came in a distant fourth in the general election with just 3.1 percent.
Over the last 74 years since the 1942 cycle, Minnesota U.S. Representatives have won 291 out of 292 renomination bids, or 99.7 percent of the time.
Republican U.S. House members have won 143 of 144 primaries during this period with DFLers winning all 147 attempts.
Excluding Andersen’s 1962 loss, these 291 incumbents have faced primary challengers 89 times and averaged 81.0 percent of the vote.
Only one other incumbent failed to win a majority of the primary vote: DFLer Gerry Sikorski in 1992 with a 49.3 percent plurality victory against two challengers.
Gopher State U.S. Representatives didn’t reach the 60 percent mark in just five other bids since World War II: Republican Harold Knutson in 1942 (57.6 percent), Republican Joseph O’Hara 1948 (51.3 percent) and 1952 (55.7 percent), DFLer Coya Knutson in 1958 (56.2 percent), and DFLer Jim Oberstar in 1980 (55.7 percent).
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