Millionaire businessman and heir to the Phillips Distilling Company Dean Phillips has unseated Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.
Phillips ran his campaign on fighting the corrupt influence of money in politics, while attacking Paulsen for not making himself available to his constituents, at one point garnering national attention for running a campaign ad that compared the Republican to “Bigfoot.”
With a campaign slogan of “Everyone’s Invited,” Phillips quickly attracted Minnesotans to his campaign and was emblematic of the “Minnesota Nice” stereotype.
Paulsen faced intense criticism on the campaign trail for attack ads he ran against his opponent, in one instance claiming that the Allina Health Care Board of Directors ignored sexual harassment allegations when Phillips served as a chair.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Phillips led Paulsen 56 percent to 44 percent, and the race was called for the Democrat.
“Dean Phillips represents a new kind of politics—one in which our leaders work to unite rather than divide us, and choose hope over fear,” the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party announced after its candidate’s victory. “As our next MN-03 congressman, we know Dean will fight tirelessly for Minnesota families.”
.@deanbphillips represents a new kind of a politics — one in which our leaders work to unite rather than divide us and choose hope over fear.
— Minnesota DFL Party (@MinnesotaDFL) November 7, 2018
In his concession speech, Paulsen told his supporters that “it’s been an honor to represent you in Congress,” calling it the “highest privilege” of his life while holding back tears.
“I know we came up a little short tonight. Tonight voters have chosen a new voice to lead them in Congress,” he added. “God bless you, and God bless Minnesota.”
The race between Paulsen and Phillips was the most expensive congressional race in the state, and among the most expensive in the country, with a combined $10.6 million raised. Paulsen has represented the district since 2008, and the seat has been occupied by Republicans since 1961.
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