I’ve long felt that the MNGOP’s best shot at a pickup in 2010 will be in the First Congressional District (CD), where DFLer Tim Walz beat incumbent moderate Gil Gutknecht in 2006. Walz was a middling-to-weak candidate, but a likeable enough guy who ran far enough to the center to eke out a win in the second-worst election for Republicans in recent memory. Incumbency has its privileges, of course; Walz solidified his position last year against a very weak GOP candidate in the worst year for Republicans in recent memory.
Still, if there’s a vulnerable DFLer in the state, it’s Walz; he’s a mushy center-left Congressman of no real distinction, one who’s followed whomever’s ridden the biggest horse in his three exceedingly vanilla years in Washington. A good conservative reflecting the overall realities of the district and, let us not forget, a better year for Republicans, could make 2010 the year Tim Walz goes back to whatever it was he did before he went to Washington.
The Cook Report is showing early signs of agreement, demoting the race in the First from “Solid” to “Likely” Democrat – and this long before the GOP has even begun winnowing its five contenders down to find a candidate.