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8th District: Jim Oberstar


SNAPSHOT
James L. Oberstar is the dean of the Minnesota congressional delegation with 16 terms under his belt. He is the longest-serving member of Congress in Minnesota's history. The seniority has brought a powerful committee position and more clout than other politicians from the state. He has an independent streak and is perceived as something of a maverick.

Creole-speaking Oberstar, who served the U.S. Navy in Haiti, came to the House in 1974, seeking to succeed Rep. John Blatnik, his former employer. He lost the DFL endorsement for the seat to state Sen. Tony Perpich, but ran in the primary and defeated Perpich handily.

He had few serious challenges in his subsequent re-election bids. In 1984, he lost a primary bid for the U.S. Senate.

His district is one of the nation's largest. It stretches north from Chisago and Isanti counties in east-central Minnesota, through Duluth and the Iron Range to the Canadian border. He opposes abortion and is against the death penalty.

James Oberstar was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 with 62 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected 14 times, all with ease. Oberstar's three most recent contests are prime examples. In 1998 he defeated Republican Jerry Shuster with 66 percent of the vote in a race that also featured Stan "The Man" Estes. In the 2000 general election he faced another nicknamed challenger, "Cowboy" Bob Lemen, a native Texan who has settled in Grand Rapids. He beat Lemen with 68 percent of the vote. He outspent Lemen $1 million to $22,000. In 2002, he again beat Lemen by a 69-to-31-percent margin.

In 2004, Oberstar faced Mark Groettum, a Republican, and Van Presley, a member of the Green Party. Oberstar cruised to re-election, capturing 65 percent of the vote in the three-way race, the 5th straight election in which he captured at least 65 percent of the votes cast.

Candidate Bio

James Oberstar
Political affiliation:
DFL Party
Born:
September 10, 1934
Chisholm, Minn.
Personal:
Married to Jean Oberstar.
Four children from his marriage to Jo, who died in 1991.
Catholic.
Occupation:
8th District congressman. Navy civilian language teacher, Haiti, 1959-63.
Education:
Bachelor's degree from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., in 1956 and a master's degree from the College of Europe in Belgium in 1957.
Major political experience:
Administrative assistant to Rep. John Blatnik, 1963-74; Elected to U.S. House of Representatives, 1974.

Show Appearances

Audio MPR's Stephanie Hemphill interviews Oberstar.
(9/23/06)

Campaign Finances

Total contributions
$1,198,362
Total disbursements
$943,938
Cash on hand
$479,734
Source: Federal Election Commission. October 2006

Links and Resources

House Web site:
Document Rep. Jim Oberstar
Campaign contributors
Document Political Moneyline

Candidate Pages

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