Democratic infighting is jeopardizing the party’s hold on one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts, providing the GOP with a rare pickup opportunity in November as it struggles to hold on to its 23-seat House majority.
The White House is already taking notice of the contest in northeastern Minnesota’s 8th District, sensing a chance to claw back a Democratic-held seat in an otherwise grim election cycle. St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber, the Republican running in the largely rural district, said President Donald Trump called him unexpectedly on March 16, saying he “wanted to offer up his support, and anything that he could do to help us win the election, he would do it.”
A National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman confirmed the president’s call to Stauber.
The unusual dynamics of the race suggest Trump could make a difference. On Minnesota’s Iron Range a historically Democratic and blue-collar part of the state that Trump won by a wide margin in 2016 conflict between environmentalists and pro-mining Democrats over the future of copper-nickel mining in the region has fractured the party. And Trump’s decision to set new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has further scrambled the equation after the announcement drew widespread local praise including from veteran Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and other Democrats.