In two competitive congressional primaries on Tuesday, Minnesota voters chose older politicians, neither of whom has served in elected office for decades, over younger challengers. Former Congressman Rick Nolan took the DFL nomination in the 8th Congressional District, while former legislator Allen Quist won the primary in the 1st Congressional District.
All Minnesota congressional incumbents won their parties' nominations by wide margins.
The Associated Press declared Nolan the winner in the 8th Congressional District DFL primary. Nolan will face Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in November.
Nolan had 39 percent of the vote with 96 percent of precincts reported. He was trailed in the primary by Tarryl Clark and Jeff Anderson.
Nolan spoke to supporters at the Sunshine Kitchen and Moonshine Lounge in Brainerd.
"We had the winning message, we had the winning volunteers," Nolan said, "and we're going to just take this thing forward and we're going to march on to victory in November."
Nolan, who was the DFL-endorsed candidate, said he feels "terrific" about his primary campaign and the DFL's efforts for him.
"I said from the beginning, anyone who doesn't appreciate the value of the DFL endorsement system does so at their own peril," Nolan said.
Tarryl Clark arrived at her primary election party in Duluth just before midnight. She hugged her staff members and the handful of supporters who remained. Clark said her polling showed her in the lead in the race for the DFL nomination, but that "August is just a really hard time to have an election."
Clark said the election this fall will be fought over protecting entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, and creating jobs at home.
Cravaack said in a statement that he congratulated Nolan over the phone.
"I'm looking forward to discussing our different visions for the future of our country and the 8th District during the next 83 days," Cravaack said. "I look forward to a healthy debate on the issues important to Minnesota and the country.
In the 1st Congressional District, Quist will face Democrat Tim Walz in the November election. Quist had 54 percent of the district's vote with 99 percent of the precincts counted.
Quist said he received a congratulatory phone call from his primary opponent state Sen. Mike Parry, and that they were united in the effort to defeat incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Walz in November.
"We'll work together from now on," Quist said.
Quist told supporters that he's confident that a conservative Republican can win the congressional seat.
"Our focus in going to be the number one problem facing our country, and that is the debt crisis., " Quist said. "We absolutely have to change direction. We don't have a choice."
Parry conceded the race shortly before 10:30 p.m. In his concession speech, Parry said he vows to support his challenger in defeating Tim Walz in November.
"This is about a congressman who has failed to represent the first district," Parry said. "This is about a congressman that has joined lockstep with the Obama administration and actively does not support production agriculture."
Parry said he believes Quist is an electable Republican, despite previous criticisms about Quist's record and the negative tone the primary race took in the last few weeks. Parry said he will take a long-weekend road trip to Iowa with his family before returning to Minnesota to support Quist's campaign against Walz.
On a Minnesota primary election night where turnout was expected to be low, there were no big surprises in congressional races involving incumbents.
U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Erik Paulsen, John Kline and Michele Bachmann all easily won their primary challenges. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also won an easy victory in her Democratic primary.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie had predicted turnout of less than 15 percent of eligible voters, and without the crowds of November, he said things went smoothly around the state.
It's only the second time Minnesota has held its primary election in August since moving it up from September to give military and overseas voters more time to vote in the general election. But it's the first since the state redrew its congressional and legislative district boundaries to reflect population shifts.
The general election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 6.