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Oberstar loses in Minn.; gov's race tight

Oberstar loses in Minn.; gov's race tight
Rear Adm. Scott Burhoe, Superintendent for the Coast Guard Academy, then-Chairman James Oberstar of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (D-8th/MN) and Adm. Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, discuss the Coast Guard Academy at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 9, 2010. Photo courtesy of USC Press.

ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Longtime U.S. Rep. James Oberstar was caught in the Republican tsunami Tuesday and the Minnesota governor's race was razor close, election results showed.

Republican newcomer Chip Cravaack, a Navy veteran, produced a stunning upset by upsetting the 18-term Democrat who heads the House Transportation Committee in northern Minnesota's expansive 8th Congressional District, Minnpost.com reported. The news Web site said the district's heavily reliable St. Louis County wasn't enough to carry Oberstar to a 19th term.

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Unofficial results from the secretary of state's office said Cravaack had 48.18 percent to Oberstar's 46.59 percent with 100 percent of the vote counted.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the governor's race between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer was within several thousand votes -- less than a half percent -- meaning a recount was highly expected.

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With 99.66 percent (4122 of 4136) of precincts counted, Dayton, a former U.S. senator and department store heir, had 918,22 votes (43.64 percent) to 908,980 (43.20 percent) for Emmer, a state lawmaker. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner had 251,132 (11.94 percent) and four other minor party candidates and write-ins each garnered less than 8,000 votes each.

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A recount is automatic if the margin is less than one half of 1 percent, a situation that arose two years ago in the state's U.S. Senate race.

"It looks like it's recount part II: And this time it's personal," said state Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton.

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Dayton told his supporters he was "cautiously optimistic."

Emmer urged his backers to "keep the faith."

The winner will succeed two-term Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who many see as a potential candidate for president in 2012.

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The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Wednesday if a recount is needed, it would not be as time-consuming as the 2008 one. A state canvassing board meets Nov. 23 make the results official.

"We in our office are planning to have fun with this recount this time around," said Ritchie, who the Pioneer Press said added he received death threats over the outcome of the 2008 Senate election that took 47 days to resolve in Democrat Al Franken's favor over Republican Norm Coleman.

Sutton said Republicans would be "very aggressive" in a recount.

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"Something doesn't smell right when you take control of the state House, you take control of the state Senate, you win the 8th Congressional District, folks, and yet somehow, somehow, we don't win the governor's race," Sutton said.

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In Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, conservative Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann defeated Democratic state lawmaker Tarryl Clark 53.25 percent to 40 percent with most of the votes counted.

In the 7th District, Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson held a 55.75 percent to 37.07 percent margin over Republican Lee Byberg.

In the 1st District, Democratic incumbent Tim Walz was besting Republican challenger Randy Demmer 49.83 percent to 43.56 percent.

Republican Reps. John Kline in the 2nd District and Erik Paulsen in the 3rd District were headed to wins, as were Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum in the 4th District and Keith Ellison in the 5th.

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