DULUTH - Republican Pete Stauber added “congressman” Tuesday to a resume which already included retired police officer, small business owner and championship hockey player.  

Within three hours of the close of polls, telling results showed Stauber running clear of Democratic challenger Joe Radinovich in the high-profile race in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, 54 to 42 percent, with 72 percent, 584 of 806, of precincts reporting.

Stauber’s campaign declared victory shortly before midnight.

“Wow, thank you very much,” said a humbled Stauber, who thanked family, his opponents, his wife and outgoing Rep. Rick Nolan.

Stauber’s supporters were delighted at an election night watch party in Proctor, just outside Duluth, chanting “Pete, Pete, Pete!” with every passing development.  

“Pete’s message about jobs and the economy has been right on from day one,” said Justin Krych, deputy chairman of the 8th Congressional District Republican Party of Minnesota.

Steve Stracek worked with Stauber in the Duluth Police Department and was on hand for a number of campaign events, including what turned out to be the victory party.

“I’ve known Pete for 20 years,” Stracek said. “Everything he’s said on the campaign trail, he believes. He truly is that person.”

Stauber ran a marathon of a campaign, beginning 17 months ago. He started by targeting Nolan, DFL-Crosby, before pivoting to address a field of Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates following Nolan’s surprise retirement announcement in February.

A year into the campaign, Stauber’s momentum took flight in the summer following a rally in Duluth by President Donald Trump.

“Mr. President, before your election, you made a promise to visit Minnesota and you promised more jobs, fewer regulations and a better economy for everyone,” Stauber told an arena full of 8,000 people at the rally. “Now, jobs are up, unemployment numbers are at a historic low, small businesses and manufacturers are surging and optimism is at an all-time high.”

Stauber, 52, and Radinovich, 32, waged feverish campaigns, including five increasingly intense debates that focused on health care reform, tax cuts, mining, the economy and the influence of special interests in elections.

Duluth’s Ray “Skip” Sandman, 64, a third-party candidate for the Independence Party, had earned 4 percent of the vote.