Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics’ official projections. The twenty-fourth profile in the series is Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
DFL: James L. Oberstar (17-term incumbent)
Republican: Michael Cummins

District Geography:
Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District comprises the northeastern Iron Range counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Wadena, and the southeastern part of Beltrami County.

History:
Oberstar was first elected to Congress in 1974 when he filled the open seat left by 14-term DFL Representative John A. Blatnik in Minnesota’s 8th District. Oberstar beat his Republican opponent in that election, Jerome Arnold, by 35.8 points. Oberstar has now outlasted his predecessor, and is the longest serving Congressman in Gopher State history. Oberstar has won 16 straight re-election campaigns, by an average victory margin of 45.6 points. The GOP has failed to field a candidate against Obserstar in two elections (1976 and 1978), and the closest a Republican candidate has come to beating Oberstar is 29.4 points – both in 1992 (Independent-Republican Phil Herwig) and 2006 (former GOP U.S. Senator Rod Grams).

James Oberstar serves as Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Oberstar voted against the War in Iraq and is committed to bringing home U.S. troops “safely but soon. He is also advocating fiscal responsibility to combat the federal deficit, delivering increased benefits to veterans, and increasing the federal minimum wage.

Republican Michael Cummins, a project manager at Seal Guard Systems, is running a campaign that is “pro-life, pro-land rights, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-drilling.

Outlook:
The 8th Congressional District has been one of the most reliably Democratic in recent high-profile elections. In 2006, DFL-er Amy Klobuchar won her Senate seat in by 24.0 points and DFL nominee Mike Hatch carried the district by 11.1 points over Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. John Kerry carried the 8th District by 6.5 points in 2004 and Al Gore won by 5.4 points in the district in 2000. The DFL has held this U.S. House seat since 1946, and the 34-year serving Oberstar will easily return to Washington D.C. for two more years to his prestigious Chairmanship on the Transportation Committee.