SOUTHERN MINNESOTA U.S. Rep. Tim Walz won his re-election bid for Minnesota's First Congressional District by a massive 15 point margin during Tuesday's night election.
With 652 of 695 precincts reporting, Walz had raked in 57.5 percent of the votes, or 176,920 votes, while Quist pulled in 42.5 percent of the votes, or 130,112 votes.
Even in conservative Brown County, Walz dominated by 7 points with 53 percent of the votes, or 7,304 votes, to Quist's 46 percent, or 6,351 votes.
The final results followed heavily repeated predictions by national organizations that listed the district as safely Democrat after Quist won the hard-fought Republican primary. Throughout the race, Quist operated with a massive fundraising deficit compared to Walz, forcing him to take surprise move of self finance approximately $520,000, or nearly 86 percent of all the money he raised this race. He tried several innovative tactics to compensate, such as flooding the airwaves with a few low-cost, low-tech TV ads and maintaining a prominent media profile in the district.
He also managed quite successfully to keep the campaign's attention off his history of highly controversial statements during his time in the Minnesota Legislature in the 1980s by keeping a focus on the topic of the federal deficit. He also took several bold steps to differentiate himself from other Republicans, such as opposing the federal Farm Bill due to its increasing of the deficit.
The Quist campaign did not return requests for comment early Wednesday.
Walz said he did not take his strong victory as an universal endorsement by the district of Democrat policies. Instead, he said it was an indication that residents of the district strongly demand a candidate that is open-minded and willing to compromise to get things done.
"What we're hearing is people want somebody that will get something done," said Walz.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)