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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: 452268

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin938131490
Ramsey40370746
Dakota33353349
Anoka31193366
Washington20363231
Stearns17995189
St. Louis13857245
Scott1209197
Wright11723106
Olmsted1068375
Sherburne825766
Carver700138
Clay655582
Rice618070
Kandiyohi556572
Blue Earth545933
Crow Wing487778
Otter Tail460967
Chisago456436
Benton422287
Winona393048
Douglas377266
Nobles373946
Mower370829
Goodhue352661
Polk330559
McLeod326747
Beltrami314048
Morrison313545
Lyon304138
Becker288039
Itasca286443
Isanti284242
Carlton282543
Steele278110
Pine269214
Freeborn251523
Todd232630
Nicollet227537
Brown216934
Mille Lacs214945
Le Sueur212816
Cass209424
Meeker200933
Waseca191916
Wabasha17343
Martin171426
Roseau166217
Hubbard150138
Redwood140827
Houston139714
Renville137940
Dodge13714
Chippewa132032
Cottonwood128418
Fillmore12576
Wadena120517
Rock111212
Aitkin109233
Sibley10917
Faribault108316
Watonwan10688
Pennington100716
Kanabec98818
Pipestone95923
Yellow Medicine94216
Murray9056
Jackson87110
Swift84318
Pope7435
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66015
Lac qui Parle65716
Wilkin6309
Koochiching60210
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43768
Grant4358
Norman4248
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3194
Traverse2583
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309989

Reported Deaths: 4424
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46587464
Linn17979279
Scott15787171
Black Hawk14037243
Woodbury13093181
Johnson1224652
Dubuque11535159
Pottawattamie9111115
Dallas905972
Story877838
Webster471577
Cerro Gordo471472
Sioux459157
Clinton456167
Warren456139
Marshall429862
Buena Vista396130
Muscatine394978
Des Moines390043
Plymouth352470
Wapello348498
Jasper330159
Lee322632
Marion308152
Jones274250
Henry266131
Carroll258034
Bremer249348
Crawford233524
Boone222017
Washington222033
Benton212250
Mahaska197237
Jackson194331
Tama189959
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware175236
Clay171421
Wright166424
Fayette165024
Hamilton162030
Buchanan161624
Winneshiek159720
Harrison157962
Hardin156730
Cedar155419
Clayton153649
Butler150824
Page146315
Floyd140836
Cherokee139927
Mills138417
Lyon137333
Poweshiek134524
Hancock131424
Allamakee130230
Iowa127422
Calhoun12339
Madison123210
Grundy122128
Jefferson122025
Winnebago121529
Mitchell116637
Louisa115730
Cass114743
Chickasaw113512
Appanoose112040
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union110723
Humboldt106419
Shelby104727
Guthrie104024
Franklin103218
Unassigned10050
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88024
Keokuk86126
Howard85019
Monroe81919
Clarke8087
Pocahontas78111
Ida75830
Davis70021
Greene6977
Adair69520
Monona67118
Lucas66410
Osceola64611
Worth6154
Taylor5989
Fremont5246
Van Buren50115
Decatur4954
Ringgold44811
Audubon4208
Wayne41821
Adams2983
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