After winning in dominant fashion Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber did what many people have wanted the President of the United States to do.
The Hermantown congressman spoke to everyone.
"This is really an awesome experience and I'm not taking anything for granted," Stauber said. "I just want to thank everybody that supported me and those that didn’t I want to earn your trust as we move into the 117th Congress."
A look inside the numbers of Stauber's 19-percentage-point election victory over Democrat Quinn Nystrom reveals a number of things:
- He won two more counties in the 8th Congressional District than President Donald Trump, taking 16 of 18 counties, including Carlton and Lake counties, which Trump lost.
- The lawmaker won in the Minnesota State House District containing his hometown, District 3B, something he didn't do in 2018. He took 49% of the vote there, compared to 44% last time.
- He won the four State House Districts containing the Iron Range — 3A, 5B, 6A and 6B — by 14,447 votes, 50,115 to 35,668, despite Democratic state senators and three of four Democratic representatives claiming those areas.
- Stauber was clobbered in Duluth, losing House districts 7A and 7B with only 31% of the vote in each — still slight improvements over his 30% and 27% showings, respectively, in 2018.
Cindy Rugeley, political science professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, spoke to the News Tribune on Wednesday about the race and district, which favored both Stauber and Trump.
"It's a Republican district," she said. "You just have to accept it."
She described Stauber as simply a good candidate, one pitted against a "sacrificial lamb" in Nystrom.
"Stauber is a good candidate for that district," she said. "He’s got a good labor background; he’s not unattractive to moderates. He’s not someone where floods of people in Duluth and more Democratic areas turn out to vote against him."
She praised Nystrom for reaching 38% of the vote, but described how baseline Republicans like Stewart Mills in 2014 and 2016 can win 47%-49% of the vote. It takes an exceptional Democratic candidate, like U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2018, to win the district, she said. Klobuchar did so with 54% of the district's vote compared to her 60% haul statewide. Conversely, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith only garnered 40% of the district's vote Tuesday en route to losing the district and winning the state.
"Can a good Democrat win out there? Sure, but it would take a lot," Rugeley said.
Stauber stressed compromise in his victory speech.
"That’s how we’re going to move this nation, Minnesota and this congressional district forward by working together," he said.
Stauber said the country was going to get through the COVID-19 pandemic together, words he hasn't always lived up to in actions, given his crowd-gathering throughout his campaign.
"Once we get through this pandemic as one nation," he said, "we have to continue to drive our economy in a upward trajectory to make sure that small businesses that were hampered and hurt by this pandemic, they keep their doors open."
Rugeley wondered if Stauber was being so conciliatory as a way to dampen the negative connotations some voters saw in an "our way of life" campaign mantra aimed largely at the Iron Range and rural areas he won decisively.
"I really appreciate what Pete said when he won — it seemed like his way of acknowledging people might have taken what he was saying the wrong way," she said. "But to (his supporters), what Stauber was saying was, 'I understand mining is important to you in a whole lot of ways other people don't appreciate. It's part of your identity.'"
Stauber stressed mining in his address early Wednesday, coming after midnight.
"I’m really going to push for mining dominance in Minnesota," Stauber said. "We have to dominate iron ore mining and enter into copper-nickel mining to help with our supply-chain deficiencies … We have to hold our destiny in the palm of our own hand, and that’s a nonpartisan issue. That’s a bipartisan issue."