Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

It's a race between incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber and Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom.
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Democratic candidate Quinn Nystrom and Republican incumbent Pete Stauber.

Democratic candidate Quinn Nystrom and Republican incumbent Pete Stauber.

Bring Me The News is looking at each of Minnesota's nine congressional races (eight House, one Senate) in the lead up to the Nov. 3 election.

Today we look at the 8th Congressional District, a vast district which covers the Boundary Waters, Duluth, Brainerd Lakes, the Iron Range, the North Shore, and some Twin Cities exurbs.

Who's running?

District map

What happened last time?

Stauber defeated Democrat Joe Radinovich in 2018 by securing 50.7% of the vote. He won the seat after Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, retired. The district had long been a DFL stronghold until 2010, when Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack beat incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Oberstar. Two years later, Nolan won the seat back and held it until his retirement. 

The race so far

This swing district race will make history regardless of who wins. The Bemidji Pioneer says if Stauber, of Hermantown, is re-elected, he'll be the first Republican to be re-elected in the district since 1944. Meanwhile, if Nystrom, of Baxter, beats Stauber, it'll mark the first time a woman represents the district.

Support for Stauber has been strong in the southern part of the district, which is heavily Republican, WCCO says, while Nystrom is expected to do well in the Duluth area, which is often a Democratic stronghold.

In recent months, the district has been the focus of both presidential campaigns, with Vice President Joe Biden visiting Duluth in September and a few visits from the Trump campaign. Despite this, little outside money has been spent in the congressional race, KSTP says.

Where do the candidates stand?

The main issues in the 8th Congressional District race have been the economy, health care and mining. 

Stauber, a former hockey player and Duluth police officer, has focused his campaign on the economy and job creation, while Nystrom has focused on health care, including lowering prescription drug prices, protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and getting a better handle on the pandemic at the federal level. 

When it comes to mining, which is among the biggest issues facing the district, Stauber is a supporter of iron ore and copper-nickel mining, which he says will create jobs in northern Minnesota. 

Nystrom hasn't come out against copper-nickel mining but says it needs to be done safely to protect the state's waterways, saying on her website "Our district has a long and proud history with mining – one that must continue with proper, rigorous environmental oversight." She notes that she'll evaluate each project individually to make sure it can be done right, because there are "some risks we cannot take" like those that "endanger workers or pose a threat to our cherished Boundary Waters."

You can find each candidate's stance on the issues below:

Note: No website was available for Schwartzbacker.

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