ST PETER — Editor’s note: On Sunday we will have a story about incumbent Tim Walz and his run for another term as 1st District congressman, as well as another summary story about key issues of the race.
For nearly two decades, Allen Quist has made a habit of surprising pundits and Republican Party insiders who underestimate him.
In his 1st District congressional runs in 2010 and again this year, Quist outperformed the son of a former Republican congressman and a state senator from Waseca who had key allies in the party and Legislature.
In 1998, Republican leaders and political experts saw the GOP endorsement race for governor as a two-candidate contest between St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson. Quist easily surpassed Benson’s support at the Republican state convention and became Coleman’s chief competitor for the endorsement.
And in 1994, Republican Gov. Arne Carlson’s campaign manager referred to Quist as “a mere annoyance” when the former state lawmaker announced he was going to run against his party’s sitting governor. A few months later, Mike Triggs was the former campaign manager for Carlson, and Carlson was on the way to having his own party reject him in favor of Quist at a Republican state convention that drew national political coverage.
“... I guess we should have seen it coming,” Triggs conceded in the spring of 1994.
Waiting for a win
Despite Quist repeatedly wrestling above his weight in Minnesota politics, he hasn’t finished a single match on top since 1986 when he won the last of three elections to the state House.
After getting trounced at the endorsing convention, Carlson beat Quist by a 2-to-1 margin in the 1994 primary election and won a second term as governor in the general election.
In subsequent elections, there was always one Republican better than Quist, even as he dispatched bigger-name opponents to become the last challenger to the eventual nominee.