Saturday, January 25, 2020

Site Navigation

  • News and features
  • Events
  • Membership
  • About Us
Radio

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

Polls suggest the war in Iraq will be a major issue for voters in the November election. The two leading candidates in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District are on opposite sides of the war. (07/26/2006)
Four DFL candidates for the 5th District Congressional seat discussed their views on the fighting between Israel and Lebanon in a debate Tuesday night in Minneapolis. (07/26/2006)
Four of the DFLers seeking to replace retiring 5th District Congressman Martin Sabo debated the war in Iraq, health care and poverty issues Monday. The four DFLers agreed on a number of major national issues, but tried to differentiate themselves based on their experience. (07/24/2006)
Matt Entenza, the DFL-endorsed candidate for attorney general dropped his candidacy Tuesday, setting off a flurry of last-minute filings for the September primary. Five DFL candidates are now in the running. (07/18/2006)
DFL Attorney General candidate Matt Entenza says he's horrified and embarrassed by revelations that a Chicago firm he hired dug for dirt on current DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch. He says he will apologize to Hatch, his fellow Democrat, the party's endorsed candidate for governor. (07/13/2006)
Republican Party officials are calling on two of the state's top Democrats to come clean on an apparent feud between them. (07/12/2006)
Republican Gil Gutknecht is running for re-election in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, long considered the most conservative in the state. But Democrats say that may be changing, and predict Gutknecht will be vulnerable this time around. (07/07/2006)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson rallied support for DFLer Keith Ellison's campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat in Minneapolis Friday afternoon. (06/30/2006)
If elected, Rep. Keith Ellison would be the first African American congressman from Minnesota and the first Muslim congressman in the nation's history. But Ellison's past, in particular his relationship with the Nation of Islam, are causing some Jewish activists and others to question if he's the best candidate. (06/30/2006)
Patty Wetterling locked down the DFL endorsement in the 6th District on Saturday, setting up what promises to be a rip-roaring battle for Congress with the GOP's conservative candidate, Michele Bachmann. (05/13/2006)
Democrats in the 6th Congressional District will meet Saturday in Monticello to endorse a candidate for the U.S. House. (05/12/2006)
Patty Wetterling and Elwyn Tinklenberg both want to grab Mark Kennedy's House seat for the Democratic Party. They make their cases to the voters in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. (Midday, 05/10/2006)
If elected, Keith Ellison would be the first African American congressman in Minnesota history. But the endorsement doesn't guarantee that he'll be DFLer on the November ballot because several Democrats say they'll run in a September primary. (05/06/2006)
Bachmann easily won the endorsement contest Saturday in Monticello and is looking ahead to the November election. Her three challengers say they are sticking to their pledge not to run in a primary. (05/06/2006)
Rep. Mark Kennedy has set his sights on the U.S. Senate, and there is a heated race underway for the Republican endorsement to take his place in Congress. (Midday, 05/03/2006)