DULUTH, Minn. -- There was a distinct chill in the air in Duluth on October 8. On the eve of the first debate between the men vying for the 8th U.S. Congressional District seat of Minnesota, the war of words was already in full swing, on the airwaves.
Democratic challenger Rick Nolan, a veteran congressman, is hoping to unseat Republican Chip Cravaack, who won the seat from a super-incumbent a couple of years ago.
University of Minnesota-Duluth political science professor Wy Spano told KARE 11 that he estimatessix percentof the money spent on the ads came from outside interests. "This will be the first time that we'll be able to ask the question, can you buy an election? What does all of this 'flood' mean?" the professor wondered. Nolan says the contest is likely thefourth most expensive congressional race in the entire U.S.
The debate, scheduled for an extremely early 8 a.m. at the city's depot, will be closely watched and hotly contested. "The debate is a big deal partially because this debate last time really probably decided the election," Spano explained. He was talking about a debate two years ago between Cravaack and Jim Oberstar that drew a lively and spirited crowd.
Back to 2012, both candidates will talk about the economy and how to fix it. "It is essential that we get our spending under control. It is essential that we stop placing debt on the next generation. It is essential that we optimize the small business owners and start creating jobs," Congressman Cravaack told KARE 11 a few weeks ago.
"The country's in trouble. The deficits, the endless wars, the joblessness, the growing inequalities, they're not sustainable. They threaten our future," Nolan said the day before the debate.
This pair of politicians is polling at close to the same rate a month out from Election Day. "Rick Nolan's going to win by that much," Spano said with his fingers about a couple centimeters apart. Then he continued on with his analysis. "But on November 7, I would not be surprised if Chip Cravaack won by that much," he said, fingers still 2 centimeters apart.