The race for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District will make history no matter what the outcome is in November.

Either Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown, will be the first Republican to be re-elected in the district since William Pittenger in 1944, or Quinn Nystrom, DFL-Baxter, will become the first woman elected to the seat.

They’re going at it from different angles — with Stauber focused on the economy, and Nystrom by building her case around health care.

“I’ve seen firsthand that our healthcare system does not work for everybody,” Nystrom said during a Duluth forum this month. “We have an affordability crisis with health insurance premiums, with max out-of-pockets, with the high cost of prescription medication, and I think we’ve only seen that this has gotten further exacerbated based on this global health pandemic.”

Living with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years, Nystorm, a diabetes advocate, favors expansion of the Affordable Care Act, stopping short of pushing for Medicare-for-All.

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Stauber, a former Duluth police officer, doesn’t want to risk people losing their employee health care, and decries the cost of both the ACA and other progressive solutions. He favors starting over with bipartisan solutions.

He’s also intent on delivering for an economy that has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gov. (Tim) Walz shut down our schools, our businesses, and even our places of worship, but I’m here to tell you … we are ready and able and on our way to the great American comeback,” Stauber said during the Duluth forum at which he continued to press his support for embattled projects in Northeastern Minnesota.

“(W)e have the opportunity to bring blue-collar, middle-class jobs back — by opening up our mines and expanding our iron-mining capacity, expanding into copper-nickel mining to help with our supply chain dependency and, of course, support the replacement of Enbridge Line 3,” he said.

Nystrom favors Line 3 replacement, too, and says that she’s not opposed to copper-nickel mining if it’s proven it can be done safely.

Stauber favors what he calls the “parallel tracks” of a full return from COVID-19 restrictions, while protecting the seniors he says are most vulnerable to the virus. Nystrom, meanwhile, has showcased her respect for the virus by campaigning cautiously throughout most of the year, restricting herself to online appearances and events until only recently.

The race features a third-party candidate in Judith Schwartzbacker of Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis. She has not made any public appearances or pronouncements about the race.

Instead, it’s been the major party candidates stirring the news cycle — Stauber by playing host to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Duluth, and Nystrom by earning the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination with ease compared to 2018’s highly-contested Democratic nomination.

Nystrom’s most recent fundraising quarter of $650,000 closed the money gap with Stauber, who has added somewhat modestly to the more than $1 million he had banked entering the year.

Nystrom has taken only individual donations and has been critical of Stauber for his support from industry-led political action groups.

“I’m committed to making sure we get dark money out of politics, because I think that it is the root of so many problems that we have,” she said.

Most race watchers have Stauber comfortably in front heading into the Nov. 3 election. The Cook Political report does not consider it among the House of Representatives’ top 92 competitive races.

Stauber has earned the support of several labor unions which had once been the domain of the DFL.

“My opponent talks as if she supports mining, but the union members know who supports them,” Stauber said during a Hibbing forum. “I’m supported by the Teamsters, the Iron Workers, the Carpenters, the Pipefitters and so many others that are part of this blue-collar, middle-wage economy here on the Iron Range.”

Pete Stauber

  • Republican

  • Incumbent

  • Age: 54

  • Lives in Hermantown

  • Lake Superior State University graduate

Quinn Nystrom

  • DFL

  • Age: 34

  • Lives in Baxter

  • Hope College of Michigan graduate