Bill Luther was considered a heavyweight in the 1994 congressional race because of his war chest, his 20 years in the state Legislature and his post as assistant Senate majority leader since 1982. He was elected _ but by fewer than 600 votes. He had been aiming for a congressional seat since former U.S. Rep. Gerry Sikorski lost in 1992. He was among the Democratic candidates to share the stage with President Clinton during Clinton's campaign swing through Minnesota in 1992. He was a political liberal but said during the 1994 campaign that he would emphasize controlling crime and other "bread and butter" issues. He also supported legal abortion. He said he wanted to restore people's confidence in government.
Luther is the giant of Minnesota's congressional delegation when it comes to raising campaign cash. Through June, the Democrat has collected almost $1.3 million for his re-election campaign, but he faces a well-organized challenger who has the support of top Republicans. The district is widely considered the most closely divided in the state between Republicans and Democrats, and television commercials are expensive in the metropolitan area.
Luther raises money from a wide variety of sources and people from all walks of life. Luther serves on the House Commerce Committee. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave Luther's 2001 voting record 95 out of a possible 100 points; the American Conservative Union gave him 16 points.
Bill Luther was elected to the U.S. House in 1994, narrowly defeating Republican Tad Jude by about 500 votes. In 1996, Luther was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote against Jude. He won re-election in 1998 by defeating Republican John Kline with 51 percent of the vote. Kline is his opponent again this year. Luther served in the Minnesota House, 1974-76, and the state Senate, 1976-94. In 2000, he was re-elected with 50 percent of the vote.
Reapportionment after the census put Luther in the 2nd district for the 2002 race.