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In third try, Kline unseats Luther; Kennedy survives challenge
Republicans have picked up a new seat in Minnesota's delegation to the U.S. House. Republican challenger John Kline defeated incumbent DFLer Bill Luther in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District. Kline's victory creates a 4-4 split in Minnesota's House delegation.

St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota Republicans now control four seats in the House of Representatives, the most since 1982. It was evident early on that Republicans would do well in Minnesota. First District Republican Gil Gutknecht set the tone for the night when he came out and addressed supporters at 10:30p.m., acknowledging a sound defeat of DFLer Steve Andreason and Green Party Candidate Greg Mikkelson.

John Kline

Republican John Kline defeated incumbent DFLer Bill Luther in the 2nd Congressional District. It was the third meeting between the two.
(Photo courtesy of

"This is a really unusual thing for me, because normally we're waiting till all the results were in. But CNN announced me as the winner before any of the votes were counted tonight," Gutknecht said.

Gutknecht told supporters that GOP victories in this year's election reminds him of the mid-term Republican revolution in 1994.

Voters are sending seven of Minnesota's eight congressional incumbents back to Washington. The one exception is in Minnesota's 2nd District, where Republican John Kline defeated DFL incumbent Bill Luther. Kline lost in 1998 and 2000 to Luther by close margins, but won easily this year.

Luther switched districts after redistricting put him in the new 6th District with Republican Mark Kennedy. From the outset, Kline attacked Luther's campaign for encouraging a supporter to run as a member of the No New Taxes Party. Sam Garst later admitted he was a sham candidate running in hopes of siphoning votes from Kline.

After he was declared the winner, Kline said voters are sending a message that they support the Republican plan to cut taxes and improve education.

Rep. Mark Kennedy

Republican Mark Kennedy won his race in the 2nd District against Democrat Janet Robert.
(Photo courtesy of

"This victory is important -- certainly not just for me and for those of us here -- but all across the country. It's very important that we have won these races for the senate and held onto the House from coast to coast, because it's so important that we keep that American dream alive for our kids and our grandkids," Kline said.

Rep. Bill Luther declined to speak with the media but issued a statement. Luther said the race "played out in the midst of a national wave for the Republican Party that we just could not overcome."

In the 6th District, Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy soundly defeated Democratic challenger Janet Robert and Independence Party candidate Dan Becker. Kennedy and Robert were engaged in an advertising war that broke out seven weeks before the election. Robert, a Stillwater attorney, spent $1.6 million of her own money, mostly to run negative ads attacking Kennedy's stance on corporate accountability and education.

Kennedy, who first won election in 2000, says he's relieved he won by such a wide margin, and is happy the GOP picked up a seat.

"When I started campaigning we only had two members from Congress on the Republican side. Now we're going to be an even 4-4 split, and I think that gives a very strong balance for Minnesota to be represented in Congress," Kennedy said.

Robert did not return calls seeking comment. Nevertheless, other DFLers were clearly shocked by the Republican dominance state and nationwide.

"I'm disappointed with the balance of things -- what's happening here and in the country tonight," said 5th District DFL Rep. Martin Sabo.

Rep. Jim Ramstad

Jim Ramstad thanks his supporters after addressing the crowd from the podium at Republican headquarters in Bloomington, Minn. Listen to his remarks.
(Photo courtesy of

Sabo sailed through an easy election, but was clearly troubled by the GOP success in Congress and the governor's race. Sabo's daughter, Julie, was the DFL's lieutenant governor candidate. He said Democrats need to come up with a better strategy to appeal to voters, but offered no specific plans.

"We need to be thinking about that. I'm not ready to make that analysis tonight," said Sabo.

DFL 4th District Rep. Betty McCollum also won easily. She said the GOP's success blossomed when President Bush made a number of campaign stops on behalf of Republican candidates in the final three weeks. McCollum says Democrats hold the president and the Republican-controlled Congress to the promises they made in this election.

"Clearly, the American people believe they can deliver on tax cuts and deliver on the economic security we need at home, and fight a war on terrorism. So they have quite a bit to fulfill in the next coming months," McCollum said.

DFLers Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar and Republican Jim Ramstad -- all incumbents -- won handily in their races.

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