Duluth, Minnesota was the location of the first general election debate in the open seat in the hotly contested 8th Congressional District. The leading candidates are Republican Pete Stauber and Democrat Joe Radinovich. They both have deep roots in the region, starting out in sports and later in public service.

Stauber won a national championship in college hockey, then was elected to city council and county board. Radinovich holds a school record running the mile and went on to serve in the state legislature. With the retirement of Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan and President Donald Trump’s 16-point win in the district, this seat is up for grabs.

The intensity for the president is still strong here according to Stauber who adds “this is the highest priority pick up in the nation.” He calls himself a common sense individual who thinks Democrat-Farmer-Laborers (DFLers) feel like the party has left them.

Radinovich says he can be an independent voice for this “very working class district” with voters who care about jobs, unions, and college costs. Geographically it’s one of the largest districts in the nation and lots of outside money is fueling attack ads citing Radinovich’s run-ins with the law “everybody knows I smoked pot when I was 18.”

Stauber’s use of county emails was questioned and he said the county investigated and  “they found no wrongdoing and they cleared the matter.” No matter what, this looks to be a close contest, pegged by the New York Times as just one percentage point apart.


Mary Lahammer
Anchor, Reporter, Producer covering politics, government, history, food for Twin Cities PBS since 1998.