Far Left Democrat Oberstar Ousted After Nearly 4 Decades
Rep. Jim Oberstar, who for 18 terms represented one of the safest Democratic seats in the nation, was swept out of office by Republican Chip Cravaack, a newcomer to politics.
Cravaack won 48 percent to 47 percent.
Nobody thought it would be this close. Certainly not DFL stalwart Oberstar, a lion of Iron Range politics for the past four decades.
Nobody, that is, except Cravaack, a newcomer to politics who seemed to be giving Oberstar the fight of his political life.
Oberstar, a powerful transportation committee chairman who has delivered millions of dollars in pork-barrel projects to his northern Minnesota district, had never won by less than 59 percent of the vote.
As far-flung precincts reported in early Wednesday morning, Oberstar and Cravaack were neck and neck. With half of the vote counted, that left only Oberstar in limbo while every other congressional incumbent in Minnesota had secured reelection. Shortly before 4 a.m., the Associated Press declared Cravaack the winner when he led by about 4,000 votes with only 2 percent of the precincts yet to report.
“We are excited with what we are seeing nationally and we remain optimistic about the outcome in the Eighth District,” Cravaack said at Tobies restaurant in Hinckley, where he was awaiting election returns. “We knew this was going to be close, and we are prepared for a long night.”