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Close Races Highlight Minnesota's Congressional Ticket
By Tom Scheck
November 8, 2000
Part of MPR's coverage of Campaign 2000
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Six incumbents in Minnesota's eight congressional districts won back their seats. The two closest races were in Minnesota's second and sixth districts. In the sixth, voters are sending back Democratic Congressman Bill Luther after he engaged in a tight rematch with Republican challenger John Kline. In the second district, Republican challenger Mark Kennedy won.

Cong. Luther celebrated with his wife, Darlene, who also won her race for re-election, winning the state representative race in district 47a. Hear Luther's speech to supporters.

REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER JOHN KLINE spent the last two years preparing for his rematch with Bill Luther. Since he lost to Luther by only four percent of the vote in 1998 with little money and low name recognition, Kline, the national Republican Party and special interest groups poured millions into his campaign.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and the state Republican Party saw Luther as vulnerable and targeted him as the number one Democratic incumbent to beat. They spent $1.5 million on Kline's behalf, including a mailer that said Luther "allowed murderers, rapists and sex offenders out of jail and on the streets. Luther filed a criminal complaint against the literature and he also attacked the special interest groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the pharmaceutical companies also spent millions on Kline's behalf.

After all that effort by Republicans didn't matter. Luther garnered 50 percent of the vote to Kline's 48 percent and beat the Republican challenger again.

At the DFL Party headquarters in Saint Paul, Luther floated around the room after the victory. Up until last week, Luther and other House members were still
6th District Results 
Candidate  Votes Pctg.
Ralph A. Hubbard   8,584 2%
Bill Luther 174,340 50%
John Kline  170,900 48%

finishing up business in Washington, while Kline campaigned in the district. When Luther returned on Friday night, he went on the attack, saying Kline was in the pocket of special interest groups and was too extreme for the district.

Although winners are usually gracious toward the vanquished, Luther sounded as though the campaign was still going, even though all the votes were counted.

"In getting back here, I learned what was going on this campaign and the kind of money that was being brought in to, basically, flat out a buy a congressional seat in the United States of America," Luther told supporters. "You stood up to it and together we stopped them from basically buying a congressional seat locke, stock and barrel."

Kline says he's not sure whether to run for office again. Hear Kline's speech to supporters.
Luther also raised $2.5 million for this campaign and also had the state and national party spend about $1 million on his behalf.

Kline's campaign maintained Luther was just as negative. During his concession speech, Kline was somber and to the point saying, "He did it to me again." Kline said his two main issues of tax cuts and more local control for schools didn't resonate strongly enough with the voters.

"We tried hard, we put our plan together, we tried to get our message out. I think the message is really the right message for the district. The voters didn't see it that way today," said Kline.

State Republican Chair Ron Eibensteiner said he wants to convince the retired Marine to run again and said this would be Luther's last two years as a congressman.