Sabatos Crystal Ball

Minnesota Races

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Minnesota (01)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Tim Walz (D) unseated Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) with 53% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) will win reelection over Tim Walz (D). A favorite of DFL party activists, the veteran Walz has stirred up the liberal base in southern Minnesota enough to put this race on everyone_s map. Republicans are headed for a potentially very bad year in Minnesota, and though we believe Gutknecht has compiled a record sufficiently moderate for political survival, Gutknecht could find himself swept away if the national Democratic wave hits high enough to put Democratic gains above 30 seats.


Candidates

Gil Gutknecht (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,917,386.57 | Total Raised: $1,362,041.35

Tim Walz – Democrat – Total Raised: $862,880.54 | Total Spent: $696,840.78

Minnesota (02)

Outlook: Likely Republican


November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted Rep. John Kline (R) won reelection over Coleen Rowley (D) with 56% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. John Kline (R) will win reelection over Coleen Rowley (D). This race dropped off nearly everyone’s radar screen early on in the cycle, but Rowley’s name recognition as a 9/11 FBI whistleblower might yet hold Kline to a single-digit win.


Background

This suburban Twin Cities district has been trending Republican all decade, but that didn’t deter former FBI official, 2002 Time Magazine co-Person of the Year, and one of the nation’s most recognizable “whistleblowers,” Coleen Rowley, from mounting a congressional campaign here in 2006. Following a stumbling start by Rowley, it is looking as if the Democratic nomination here could just as easily go to State Sen. Sharon Marko, who recently announced her candidacy.

Incumbent GOP Rep. John Kline first came to office in 2002 when a newly drawn district enabled him to handily defeat veteran Democratic Rep. Bill Luther, whom Kline had challenged several times before unsuccessfully. In 2004, he won convincingly as Bush carried the district by a substantial margin. At this point, Kline remains the strong favorite, though Marko could possibly give him a spirited challenge.

Candidates

John Kline (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,385,764.89 | Total Spent: $644,505.30
Website

Coleen Rowley – Democrat – Total Raised: $560,738.76 | Total Spent: $460,042.35
Website

Minnesota (06) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Michele Bachmann (R) defeated Patty Wetterling (D) with 50% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Michele Bachmann (R) will defeat Patty Wetterling (D). Polls show greatly differing results in this largely exurban district, and few races in the country have featured candidates with more disparate views or nastier ads. We believe that the result here will be very close, but that this district fundamentally wants to vote for a conservative. Even in the post-Foley scandal era, we give the social conservative Bachmann a tiny edge over the child protection advocate Wetterling.

September 25, 2006 Update:

When all is said and done, this race could well go down in history as the most bitter House race ever fought between two women. GOP State Sen. Michele Bachmann is a polarizing social conservative figure, and her party chides DFL activist Patty Wetterling as unprepared to hold federal office. Sure, the district is Republican, but Wetterling’s name identification advantage from the last cycle and the strong Democratic tide give her an even shot to score Democrats a pickup.

June 29, 2006 Update:

As predicted, DFL activist Patty Wetterling and GOP State Sen. Michele Bachmann won their parties’ respective nomination contests, and Minnesota will host its first ever competitive general election featuring two women in 2006. As this is her second try in as many campaign cycles, Wetterling probably starts out with a name recognition advantage, but by November we bet she will still be swimming upstream in this exurban and considerably Republican district.


February 2006 Outlook:

While GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy attempts to receive a promotion to the Senate from Minnesota’s voters, the congressional seat he is leaving open is quickly becoming the scene of a very fierce battle among several Republicans and two Democrats who all want very badly to succeed him in this northern Twin Cities suburban district.

Hard-line conservative GOP state Sen. Michele Bachmann appeared to have taken an early lead in the intra-party fight, but she faces opposition from both more moderate state Rep. Jim Knobloch and anti-tax state Rep. Phil Krinkie. To a lesser extent, former military pilot Jay Esmay may be a factor. Although all the candidates have agreed to support the winner of the standard GOP nominating convention, there exists a slight possibility at least one candidate who comes up short could prolong the nomination battle towards the fall primary.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings was supposed to have been Democratic-Farmer-Labor Blaine Mayor Elwyn Tinklenberg, who served as the state’s Transportation Department chief in the cabinet of former Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura. What Tinklenberg lacks in a good political name he may make up for with a good political face, as he bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger Walter Mondale. But this month’s surprise last-minute decision by 2004 DFL nominee Patty Wetterling to go back on her commitment to Tinklenberg by switching from the Senate race to the House race h
ere certainly complicates the DFL picture.

Overall, the entrance of Wetterling, the well-known missing children’s advocate who held Kennedy to 54 percent in 2004, slightly enhances Democratic chances in this district. She maintains excellent name recognition in the area and will likely win the DFL nomination. But for Democrats, the fact that Tinklenberg and Wetterling must now do battle in the first place is an certainly an unwelcome consequence of Wetterling’s delay in entering the race. Her office-shopping may become a serious issue in itself.

If either Tinklenberg or Wetterling is to have a shot at winning the general election in a GOP-leaning district that now includes the emerging Republican stronghold of St. Cloud, the Republican nominee will probably need to be bruised, battered, and short on funds coming out of the GOP nomination fight. At this point, that scenario is not out of the question, though we do give the Republicans an advantage.

Candidates

Michelle Bachmann (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,846,416.87 | Total Spent: $1,386,126.60
Website

Patty Wetterling – Democrat – Total Raised: $2,643,593.33 | Total Spent: $1,905,180.27
Website