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U.S. House incumbents win

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U.S. House incumbents win
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Incumbent Minnesota U.S. representatives notched wins Tuesday.

Congressmen declared winners included, with most votes counted:

• Democrat Collin Peterson of western Minnesota won 72 percent to 28 percent over second-time challenger Glen Menze. Peterson, according to unofficial returns from the Secretary of State's office.


• The dean of Minnesota's congressional delegation, Democrat Jim Oberstar, in the northeast and east-central area, easily out-distanced political unknown Michael Cummins 66 percent to 34.

• First-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, representing the southern counties, beat conservative Republican Brian Davis 62 percent to 33 percent.

• Republican Rep. John Kline, from the southern Twin Cities suburbs and counties to the south, turned back Steve Sarvi 57 percent to 43 percent.

• Republican Michele Bachmann beat El Tinklenberg 47 percent to 43 percent. The race gained national notice when Bachmann questioned whether Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama might have anti-American views and said the media should investigate every member of Congress to determine who was anti-American.

The only open seat remained in Republican hands.

In the western Twin Cities' suburbs, state Rep. Erik Paulson, a Republican, beat Democrat Ashwin Madia with 48 percent to 41 percent.

Two Twin Cities Democratic representatives, Betty McCollum of St. Paul and Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, were declared easy winners early in the night.

Oberstar said he had no doubt he would win: "It is just a matter of how large a margin."

The key to serving so long is not in the campaign, he said. "It is your work as an incumbent that one does year in and year out, responding to the needs of the citizens."

Even when he cannot succeed, he said, "people will say, 'You tried.' My driving purpose is serving the people."

As Transportation Committee chairman, Oberstar said, he looks forward to working with a Democratic president and a Senate with more Democrats.

"For me, the exciting thing is with those concerns in mind, we will have a president who will sign these bills and will have a senate who will not be locked down in filibusters," Oberstar said about his transportation bills. "I think we have about 18 months before the next election cycle sets in."

Peterson said that despite being a Democrat he will not have an easy time with a Democratic president and the possibility of more Democrats in the House.

"We are going to be in a heck of spot," the conservative said. "We are going to have to keep everybody centered."

So-called Blue Dog Democrats, a group of conservatives, probably will grow from 49 to 61 members, he said, with a larger job. "It is going to be our job to keep this thing in the middle of the road."

Barack Obama, now the president-elect, told the Blue Dogs two months ago that he would work with them. Peterson said he does not expect Obama to be "going to be off on some left-wing agenda."

Blue Dogs could wield power, Peterson said, by being the force to bring the two extremes together.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.