Updated 12:10 p.m.| Seven-term Minnesota GOP Rep.
announced Thursday he will not run for re-election, putting Republicans in a tough spot to hold the southeastern Minnesota district in a presidential year. "It has been and will continue to be a privilege serving the men and women of Minnesota’s 2nd District for the next 16 months,” he said in a statement Thursday morning.
Kline was first elected in 2002 and won re-election last November by 17 points. But his seat has been a perennial Democratic target since President Barack Obama narrowly carried the district twice. His retirement announcement is prompting The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call to move the race from Safe Republican to Tossup.
Adding to Republican challenges this cycle is that there's no gubernatorial or Senate race in Minnesota. And as the state is not competitive at the presidential level, the party is unlikely to have a strong turnout operation in place to aide down-ballot contests.
Even before Kline’s announcement, Democrats were enthused about two female candidates in the race: health care executive Angie Craig and physician Mary Lawrence.
Lawrence, who loaned her campaign $500,000 in the second quarter, had more than $1 million in the bank at the end of the period. Craig had $231,000 in the bank by the end of June. On the Republican side, multiple party operatives said to expect a crowded primary. Possible candidates include: