Poll: Northern MN congressional seat may flip

Pete Stauber, the Republican candidate for the 8th District congressional seat, picked up a big endorsement when the Duluth News Tribune editorial board endorsed him in the apparent close race with DFLer Joe Radinovich. The seat is being vacated by congressman Rick Nolan, a DFLer.

The editorial board — made up of publisher Neal Ronquist, editorial page editor Chuck Frederick, employee representative Kris Vereecken, citizen representative Julene Boe and citizen representative Denise Wise — cited his support for copper-nickel mining and his willingness to distance himself from President Donald Trump, with whom he shared a stage at a rally in the summer.

“When (Trump’s) legislative agenda helps us, I’ll be all on board. When it doesn’t, I won’t,” Stauber told the News Tribune Editorial Board in July when asked to address the criticism.

“I am going to support initiatives that help the 8th Congressional District. I will not blindly follow anybody. … If you think I’m (going) to Washington to vote ‘Republican good,’ ‘Democrat bad,’ I’m the wrong candidate. When you work on behalf of the party alone, which is happening, nothing gets done.”

The paper also applauded his plan to fix health care by working with Democrats, but didn’t offer any insight into an actual method for doing so.

In its latest poll over the weekend, the New York Times gives Stauber a growing lead over Radinovich, with 49 percent favoring the Republican over Radinovich.

Just a month ago, a Siena College/New York Times poll had shown the race to be a dead heat.

Aaron J. Brown, who writes at Minnesota Brown, says attack ads are working against the DFLer.

The shift toward Stauber might be attributed to two factors. First, and probably foremost, President Trump’s popularity in the 8th District rebounded, most likely because of the economy. The poll showed the president’s job approval at 55 percent in the district. I’ve long argued that Stauber’s vote take will end up mirroring Trump’s approval rating.

Second, we can’t discount the unremitting negative ads hitting Radinovich in local media. Two per break during Sunday’s Vikings game. Meanwhile, Democrats and their aligned groups still haven’t hit Stauber very hard. Radinovich’s own ads, charming but toothless, struggle to break through the noise of an increasingly nationalized race.

In a particularly brazen twist Republican aligned Super PACs even hit Radinovich as a threat to Medicare. Their argument is that Radinovich would destroy Medicare by expanding it. In other words, more health care threatens health care. This from a party that has actually sought to reduce the size of Medicare at several points in recent history. And a party that actively supports the current broken system that maddeningly costs *more* than Medicare-for-all.

The point is, Radinovich’s central issue is being turned against him. He’s being defined by his opposition. When that happens to a candidate it bodes ill.

In its latest poll, only 13 percent told the Times they were undecided or refused to give an answer.