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Dean Phillips defeats Rep. Erik Paulsen for Third District seat

November 7, 2018

First-time political candidate Dean Phillips ousted five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, becoming the first Democratic congressman in the west metro suburban district in nearly 60 years.

After easily winning re-election four times, Paulsen lost to a 49-year-old Deephaven businessman and heir to the Phillips Distilling Co.

We demonstrated that by working together, engaging in conversation with our neighbors and listening to those whose life experiences and perspectives differ than our own, we can overcome hatred and divisiveness and tribalism and begin the work of repairing our faults as a nation and as individuals, Phillips said.

Phillips overcame a slew of attack ads and responded with an energetic campaign with the slogan, everyones invited. He trekked the district in a vintage milk truck he called his Government Repair Truck, boasted a grass-roots campaign with 2,000 volunteers and touted radical hospitality with public forums, a community picnic and even flash mob dances. On Tuesday, he said hed host a town hall meeting next month, a jab at Paulsen, who was criticized for not hosting such forums in years.

Paulsen, 53, a longtime state legislator, was elected to Congress in 2008. This year, he was criticized by Phillips supporters for being too conservative and not standing up to Trump, who lost the district by nearly 10 points in 2016. While Paulsen tried to distance himself from Trump, the president endorsed Paulsen late in the campaign.

The race became Minnesotas most expensive House race, with the two candidates and outside groups spending $20 million.

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