Rep. Stauber surges to victory in 8th District
Congressman claims repeat win, first Republican to do so in 76 years
DULUTH -- Rep. Pete Stauber even outperformed President Donald Trump in the 8th Congressional District.
At 1 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, Stauber repeated history in the 8th Congressional District, where he held a significant lead over Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom.
The Hermantown congressman was on his way to becoming the first Republican to repeat in the district in 76 years — joining Duluth’s William Pittenger in 1944.
"I'm just extremely humbled and taken aback by tonight’s election," Stauber said. "I'm looking forward to continuing my work on behalf of everyone in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District."
Stauber was conducting a private results party and, despite the margin, had not declared victory as midnight approached.
With almost 90% of precincts reporting, according to the Secretary of State’s website, Stauber held 202,962 votes to Nystrom's 137,511.
Stauber's decisive win was bolstered by the fact that all of Duluth's votes were counted, meaning the bluest city in the district had said its piece and still Nystrom trailed big.
Stauber said he wanted to earn the trust of those who didn't vote for him.
"There’s so many opportunities for us in the 8th Congressional District," he said. "It's such a special district."
It was the largest win in the tightly contested district since 2012, when Democrat Rick Nolan defeated incumbent Republican Chip Cravaack by nearly 9 percentage points. Still, it wasn't among the district's biggest margins. In 2008, Democrat Jim Oberstar won by 35 percentage points over Michael Cummins, one of Oberstar's many easy victories.
The incumbent Stauber, a retired Duluth police officer, small-business owner and decorated hockey player, is popular with unions and often touts his connection to Iron Range miners and other blue-collar voters.
“My opponent talks as if she supports mining, but the union members know who supports them,” Stauber said during a Hibbing candidate forum. “I’m supported by the Teamsters, the Iron Workers, the Carpenters, the Pipefitters and so many others that are part of this blue-collar, middle-wage economy here on the Iron Range.”
Voters seemed to be responding to Stauber’s vehement support for both mining and opening up the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stauber was outperforming even President Donald Trump in the 8th District, gaining 1.3% more of the district's vote than a president to which Stauber has devoted his support. Trump won the district, but lost the state to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
"People that may not agree with me, I can sit down and have a great conversation," Stauber said. "The word compromise seems to be a bad word in Washington. It's not a bad word."
Despite close ties to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who have each visited the district multiple times in the last two years, Stauber is viewed as a bipartisan deal maker. He is a member of the House of Representatives’ Problem Solvers Caucus, featuring equal members of both parties working to solve issues together.
Alex Saxhaug, 22, of Virginia, voted for Stauber, and she described his general appeal: “I like him. He’s a great guy who has done a lot for up here.”
Carolyn McBride, 77, waved a large Trump flag in Grand Rapids on Election Day.
She voted for Stauber, too, saying: “If you don’t vote for the same party, they’ll never get anything done.”
Nystrom, a health care advocate who once served on her hometown Baxter City Council, was attempting to make the leap from diabetes advocate to federal office-holder. A person living with Type 1 diabetes, she ran a mostly online campaign as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did the best that we could," Nystrom said from Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes in Baxter. "It was important to me that no vote matters if somebody's life and health and safety is being compromised. I want to win this race, but we needed to run an ethical campaign, and we needed to run a campaign that put people's health first and foremost.”
Of COVID-19, Stauber said: "We need to get through this pandemic."
Third-party candidate Judith Schwartzbacker, of Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis, received 5% of the vote.
Forum News Service reporter Gabriel Lagarde contributed to this story.