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Presidential visit to Rochester highlights the battle for Congress

Will it make a difference in Minnesota's 1st District?

Posted: Oct 3, 2018 4:37 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — President Donald Trump's appearance Thursday at a rally in Rochester, Minnesota, marks his second stop to friendly territory in the otherwise traditionally blue state, where other Republicans in competitive congressional races aren't as anxious to receive him.

Trump's Minnesota visits aim to bolster GOP efforts in two of their top targeted Democratic districts, critical seats in their quest to maintain control of the House in a midterm election that could be bruising for the president's party.

In June, Trump headlined a rally in northeastern Minnesota for the candidate Republicans hope can win back a once-reliable Democratic stronghold after it swung for Trump in 2016.

But the president's popularity is less certain to help carry Republicans in the state's suburban pockets. Two GOP incumbents there are among Democrats' top targets nationwide as they try to net the 23 seats needed to regain control of the House.

The Rochester visit brings Trump to Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, a Republican-leaning area Democrats have controlled for 12 years. Third-time GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn is hoping to finally break through after nearly unseating Rep. Tim Walz in 2016, despite the race generating little attention or outside help.

Walz's decision to run for Minnesota governor this year made Hagedorn's race a top priority for Republicans. Outside political groups from both parties have already spent $4 million, more than every previous election combined since at least 2010. Hagedorn, a businessman and the son of the area's former congressman, hopes newfound publicity stemming in part from Trump's visit will carry him to victory.

"We're pretty much the best pickup opportunity in the nation for the Republican Party," Hagedorn said. "It's a place where the president and the Republicans can be on offense."

Hagedorn has been an unabashed supporter of Trump since his 2016 campaign, telling southern Minnesota voters he'd go to Congress as "conservative reinforcement" for the president. That message helped him easily win a Republican primary in August over a more moderate state senator and advance to face Democratic candidate Dan Feehan, a veteran and former acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in President Barack Obama's administration.

It's a similar story in northeastern Minnesota, where Republican County Commissioner Pete Stauber is running against former state Rep. Joe Radinovich in an open race for the 8th Congressional District. Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan is retiring from his second stint in Congress after winning three nail-biter races, including eking out a 2016 victory even as Trump won the district by more than 15 percentage points.

It's potentially ripe territory for Trump and Republicans, borne out by his June 20 rally for Stauber in Duluth. His administration's tariffs on steel imports played well in the district, which is home to the state's famed Iron Range mines.

Former state House Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert said it's unclear whether Trump has retained the popularity in Minnesota that brought him less than 2 percentage points shy of being the first GOP presidential candidate to win the state since 1972. But he guessed the steel tariffs would help him boost Stauber, while the resolution of a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico this week could allay the concerns of farmers in southern Minnesota.

"There's little doubt in my mind that Trump is more popular in the rural areas than he is in the suburbs," Seifert said. "There's no doubt the White House sees the opportunity."

That opening is less clear for Republicans running in Minnesota's suburbs, where first-term Rep. Jason Lewis and fifth-term Rep. Erik Paulsen are locked in close re-election bids. The president's sinking support in the suburbs has put both lawmakers in a tricky position against well-financed Democrats.

Paulsen began his campaign against Democratic businessman Dean Phillips with an ad highlighting breaking with Trump in a vote to block mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Campaign manager John-Paul Yates said Paulsen would not attend Thursday's rally.

Lewis was set to join Trump and fellow Republicans in Rochester, campaign manager Becky Alery said. The former conservative talk radio host faces a rematch from Angie Craig, whom he beat by less than 2 percentage points in 2016.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 554536

Reported Deaths: 7083
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1155051679
Ramsey47786853
Dakota42410422
Anoka38477415
Washington24913273
Stearns20994218
St. Louis16774297
Scott15946117
Wright14764127
Olmsted1273297
Sherburne1060080
Carver980145
Clay781289
Rice7632101
Blue Earth695840
Kandiyohi627380
Crow Wing615086
Chisago548250
Otter Tail542673
Benton530597
Mower450532
Goodhue442471
Douglas441870
Winona438149
Nobles400248
Morrison394659
McLeod394355
Isanti375159
Beltrami372257
Itasca370752
Polk365367
Steele361914
Becker353948
Lyon347848
Carlton329352
Freeborn326829
Pine311821
Nicollet306542
Brown294439
Mille Lacs281250
Le Sueur269722
Todd268730
Cass249626
Meeker235937
Waseca231221
Martin212529
Wabasha19953
Roseau197318
Renville172043
Hubbard171841
Dodge17123
Redwood166435
Houston162614
Cottonwood156821
Fillmore15169
Pennington150619
Chippewa145836
Wadena144021
Faribault143419
Sibley135710
Kanabec130621
Aitkin128636
Watonwan12549
Rock122719
Jackson117310
Yellow Medicine110419
Pipestone109725
Murray10229
Pope10226
Swift99518
Marshall85617
Stevens82010
Lake78419
Clearwater77414
Koochiching76913
Wilkin76812
Lac qui Parle73522
Big Stone5644
Lincoln5592
Grant5478
Norman5229
Mahnomen5048
Unassigned49578
Kittson46622
Red Lake3877
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods3053
Cook1450

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357796

Reported Deaths: 5821
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55970604
Linn20297330
Scott19082234
Black Hawk15550306
Woodbury14897221
Johnson1404281
Dubuque13153202
Dallas1089196
Pottawattamie10747162
Story1031147
Warren555186
Clinton537390
Cerro Gordo521986
Webster508291
Sioux506073
Marshall477174
Muscatine459896
Des Moines441465
Wapello4253120
Buena Vista421740
Jasper407670
Plymouth397079
Lee368155
Marion354575
Jones293055
Henry286137
Bremer279260
Carroll279151
Crawford262040
Boone258533
Benton250355
Washington249550
Dickinson242043
Mahaska224850
Jackson217942
Kossuth212663
Clay211025
Tama206671
Delaware202839
Winneshiek194433
Page190321
Buchanan188831
Cedar183823
Fayette182941
Wright180435
Hardin179942
Hamilton178049
Harrison176373
Clayton167055
Butler162534
Mills158620
Cherokee157138
Floyd155342
Lyon154741
Madison153919
Poweshiek152733
Allamakee149051
Iowa145524
Hancock143534
Winnebago136031
Grundy135232
Cass134354
Calhoun133211
Jefferson130635
Emmet128840
Shelby128337
Sac127219
Louisa126849
Appanoose126747
Mitchell125241
Union124032
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie117929
Franklin112721
Palo Alto110922
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10030
Clarke98223
Keokuk94530
Monroe94128
Ida89633
Adair84532
Pocahontas83621
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75516
Lucas74923
Worth7078
Taylor65212
Fremont6139
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
Wayne52123
Audubon4949
Adams3284
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