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Familiar faces: Minnesota congressional races go (mostly) to incumbents

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Only one of the eight congressional races in Minnesota turned out to be a nail biter – the 8th District – and in the end, the incumbent won. The other seven offered no surprises and little drama in terms of their outcomes.

Six incumbents were returned to office by wide margins, and in the seventh race, an open seat in the heavily Republican 6th District was won by the Republican.

Here's the rundown of who will represent Minnesota in Washington:

1st District winner: Incumbent Rep. Tim Walz

Incumbent DFLer Tim Walz defeated Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn by a 54-46 percent margin. Walz was first elected to the House in 2006, and has especially strong interests in veterans issues and agriculture policy.

Hagedorn is a businessman from Blue Earth. His father represented the district in Congress from 1975-1983. Hagedorn challenged the endorsed GOP candidate in the August primary and won that race, but didn't gain enough traction to defeat Walz.

2nd District winner: Incumbent Rep. John Kline

Rep. John Kline, a Republican who was first elected to Congress in 2002, won re-election over two opponents, Democrat Mike Obermueller and IP candidate Paula Overby. Kline also defeated Obermueller, a former state legislator, two years ago.

Kline won even after comedian Bill Maher made him the target of his “Flip-A-District” campaign. Maher hosted a forum in Northfield in late October as part of his campaign to defeat Kline. Kline serves on the House Education and Armed Services Committee.

3rd District winner: Incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen cruised to an easy win over Democratic challenger Sharon Sund, 62-38 percent to win election to his fourth term in Congress representing the western suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Sund, a Plymouth businesswoman and former Hennepin County DFL chairwoman, was making her second try for Congress. Paulsen sits on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Before being elected to Congress in 2008, he was a state representative from Eden Prairie.

4th District winner: Incumbent Rep. Betty McCollum

Betty McCollum has held the reliably Democratic 4th District seat since 2000, and she had an easy time winning re-election over Republican Sharna Wahlgren and Independence Party candidate Dave Thomas.

McCollum is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. The 4th Congressional district encompasses Ramsey County and much of the East Metro, including Stillwater.

5th District winner: Incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison

Democrat Keith Ellison won an easy re-election victory in the 5th District over Republican Doug Daggett and Independence Party candidate Lee Bauer. Ellison, who was first elected in 2006, garnered 71 percent of the vote in the most heavily Democratic district in the state, which covers the city of Minneapolis and several suburbs. Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress.

6th District winner: Tom Emmer

Republican Tom Emmer has won the 6th District seat being vacated by Michele Bachmann. Emmer defeated Democrat Joe Perske, who is the mayor of Sartell, and Independence Party candidate John Denny. Emmer won 56 percent of the vote over his two challengers. Emmer ran for governor in 2010 and lost a close race to Mark Dayton.

The 6th district, which includes the St. Cloud area and wraps around the northern and far western Twin Cities suburbs, is Minnesota's most conservative district.

7th District winner: Incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson

Peterson is the dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation, having served in the House for 24 years. He overcame a strong challenge from Republican Torrey Westrom, a state senator, winning re-election with a 54-46 percent margin. Read more on that race here.

8th District winner: Incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan withstood a bruising challenge from Republican Stewart Mills but won re-election to a second term in the 8th Congressional District. Nolan was declared the winner by the Associated Press shortly before 1 a.m. Mills said he would wait until all the numbers were in and talk with Nolan Wednesday morning. Read more on that race here.

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