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Minnesota - 2nd District

Incumbent -- John Kline (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Jan. 23, 2010

Kline is a conservative Republican who has won all three of his re-election bids by double-digit percentages in his GOP-leaning district. He has never reached the threshold that would persuade Democratic strategists to completely remove him from their long list of targeted Republican incumbents, but his contests have not been particularly close.

The Democrats would not seem to be discouraged by the fact that 2nd District voters favored GOP nominee John McCain for president by just 2 percentage points in 2008, after giving President George W. Bush a 9-point edge four years earlier. Kline, though, won House re-election by 15 points on the same ballot.

The first Democrat to enter the 2010 race was Dan Powers, a longtime Minnesota resident and former pilot who served as a member of the board of appeals for the city of Burnsville. He has since been joined, though, by Shelley Madore, who served one term as a state representative but was unseated in 2008.

But Democratic recruiters likely would need to seek someone with a stronger political resume in their effort to unseat Kline, who has established himself as an up-and-coming Republican in Congress and recently took over as ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

A blend of rural farmland in the south and an increasingly suburban north, the 2nd is tucked just south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The district includes all or part of seven counties and its population reflects two decades of influx to the Twin Cities region. Interstate 35 provides easy access to Minneapolis' cultural and entertainment centers for residents from Scott and Dakota counties.

The counties just south of the Twin Cities saw rapid growth starting in the 1990s, and expensive housing developments underscored the area's high incomes. Carver, Scott and particularly Dakota (shared with the 4th) have become younger and wealthier, but a national housing market slowdown left the local real estate market volatile. Affordable housing in the southern counties of Le Sueur, Rice and Goodhue attracted new residents, but this area still has fertile farmland, producing corn and soybeans, among other crops. Development encroached on some of the smaller family farms, although agricultural success here tends to rely on larger, incorporated farms.

Northwest Airlines' headquarters in Eagan closed in 2009 following a merger with Delta Air Lines, but the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (located in the 5th) remains an economic linchpin for the region and employs thousands of Dakota County residents. Casinos are big business, and Mystic Lake Casino in Shakopee is one of the country's largest Indian-owned gaming centers. Other key employers include Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the 2nd's part of Dakota County; and 3M, headquartered in St. Paul (in the 4th).

The district leans slightly Republican, with GOP support in Scott and Carver counties, but many formerly Republican voters are trending left. Dakota County has some working-class Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party supporters, and the Rice County towns of Northfield -- home to St. Olaf and Carleton colleges -- and Faribault also provide Democratic votes.

Major Industry

Manufacturing, casinos, airport, agriculture

Cities

Eagan, 64,206; Burnsville, 60,306; Lakeville, 55,954; Apple Valley, 49,084

Notable

The late Sen. Paul Wellstone was a political science professor at Carleton College before beginning his political career.

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