Powerful Jim Oberstar ousted from Minn. House seat

AP calls it:

Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar fell victim to the GOP’s nationwide blitz, losing to upstart Republican Chip Cravaack in an astonishing ouster for an 18-term congressman with a perch atop the powerful House Transportation Committee.

An Oberstar loss seemed unthinkable just a few months ago, but Cravaack built momentum as the election approached by portraying Oberstar as out of touch. With 98 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, Cravaack nipped Oberstar by just 4,000 votes out of more than 273,000 cast — less than 2 percentage points.

In TV ads, Cravaack said he ran against Oberstar “with all due respect.” But the former Navy and Northwest Airlines pilot criticized Oberstar for federal spending and supporting the health care overhaul. […]

Oberstar, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, had never gotten less than 59 percent of the vote since he first ran and won in 1974. He had a long history of bringing largesse to the district even before he became House transportation chairman.

“It’s a miracle what we’ve done,” Cravaack told supporters said during an appearance at his headquarters in Hinckley Tuesday evening, even before returns showed him closing the gap and then overtaking Oberstar.

Oberstar told Minnesota Public Radio he “anticipated a difficult year from the very outset.”

Beltway Confidentialelection 2010House racesUS

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