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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

When Rep. Martin Sabo announced his retirement last month, about a dozen DFL candidates started lining up to replace him. They range from a Dairy Queen owner to a university professor. At a forum on Sunday, they touted their political chops. (04/23/2006)
Three of four candidates for the 6th District seat signed a pledge to honor the party endorsement process. But a fourth refused to sign, although he says he'll abide by it. (04/21/2006)
The common campaign theme among the Republican challengers is that Congress doesn't just need more Republicans, it needs more conservative Republicans. (04/17/2006)
Just ahead of a due date for property tax payments - and just weeks before the fall election - rebate checks averaging $205 would begin arriving in the mailboxes of homeowners if House Republican lawmakers get their way. (04/10/2006)
There's always some politics in every policy debate at the Legislature. Republican Reps. Phil Krinkie and Jim Knoblach are taking that to a higher level at the Capitol, because they're running against each other for the same Congressional seat. Some say they're trying to "out-conservatize" each other. (04/07/2006)
Even though the Legislature doesn't have a budget to balance this year, there are a number of tax-related proposals on the table, including eliminating the so-called marriage penalty, raising the state sales tax and the increasing the income tax. (Midday, 04/06/2006)
As part of the Minnesota Chamber's Business Day at the Capitol on April 6, 2006, Rep. Jeff Johnson and Rep. Matt Entenza debated issues in their race for attorney general. (04/06/2006)
The Iraq war has lost lots of support among Americans. What do the members of the Minnesota delegation think we should do now? (04/05/2006)
Ending more than a year of gridlock, a Senate committee today finally held a hearing on -- and then voted down -- a controversial bill that would put the definition of marriage on November's ballot as an amendment to the state constitution. (04/04/2006)
Democratic state Sen. Sharon Marko withdrew Wednesday from Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District race, making a fall matchup between FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley and Republican Rep. John Kline a near certainty. (03/29/2006)
U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, DFL-Minn., announced Saturday that he won't seek a 15th term in Congress. (Midday, 03/20/2006)
"In my gut I know the time is right," the Minneapolis DFLer said on Saturday as he announced the end of his political career. (03/18/2006)
University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs says Martin Sabo's decision to retire is "momentous," and the time of the announcement is "strange." (03/17/2006)
Martin Sabo is holding a press conference Saturday to announce he's not seeking re-election. The 5th District Democrat has been a member of Congress representing Minneapolis for 28 years. (03/17/2006)
Jacob Wetterling Foundation officials say they've been considering the name change for several years, but one board member says Patty Wetterling's political campaign is also playing a role in the possible change. (03/10/2006)