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Northland elections: Stauber cruises to primary victory

Eighth congressional district GOP candidate Pete Stauber talks with Kyle and Ann Anderson of Pike Lake during a barbecue at the Stauber for Congress headquarters in Hermantown on Tuesday evening. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

The roar of an engine from the Duluth International Airport could be heard from the Pete Stauber campaign headquarters.

"There's another sound of freedom," said Pete Stauber. "Maybe that's a truck."

It got a lot of laughs. Stauber, the Republican candidate running for the 8th congressional district seat was speaking to a collection of volunteers and campaign organizers. On Aug. 14, while candidates from a crowded Democratic Farmer-Labor Party awaited the results of the primary election, Stauber hosted a barbeque for his volunteers.

Stauber was declared the winner for the GOP's nomination in the 8th Congressional District before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, with more than 88 percent, or 6,336 votes, in the primary.

In recounting advice passed along to him from Vice President Mike Pence, he relayed the necessity of running a positive campaign.

"Don't impugn the integrity of your opponent," he said. "I think this country has had it with demonizing the loyal opposition and taking personal attacks. We are going to focus on the positives."

It was smiles and positivity all around at Stauber headquarters. A warm Tuesday evening carried the smell of grilled hot dogs and snow cones at the campaign headquarters, as top 40 music boomed over the speakers posted up in front of the building.

Supporters like Sherri Fedora, who has been with the campaign since the beginning, has experience helping politicians. She said to run a campaign like Stauber, there is one thing that is the most important.

"You have to have trust in somebody to hope things can happen," said Fedora. "I know Pete absolutely loves his country, loves his fellow man and loves his district and will take care of people in Minnesota and they can trust him."

If the buzzword of the evening wasn't "trust," then it may have been "grassroots."

Another supporter, Brian Billman, said the key to running this campaign has been connecting with local people, the kinds that Stauber has spent decades leading as Hermantown city councilman and county commissioner.

"Pete gravitates to everybody," said Billman. "If he speaks as an event, he doesn't leave until everyone's been talked to or shook their hand. He's a very personable person."

Stauber has been the focal point of the Republican effort to turn a historically blue 8th congressional district red. Even with heavy hitting endorsements from President Donald Trump and Pence, he said his focus has remained on staying local and not getting lazy.

"All politics are local," he said. "Keep in mind, we have 84 more days to go or so. The primaries a step in the process. That happens, then we start another gear focusing on the general."

"Tomorrow, we'll meet here as a campaign staff, with all the cooking equipment put away, then we'll discuss our priorities on what we need to do next."

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