He exhorted his followers to keep on fighting, quoting Winston Churchill: “We will never give up ... never, never, never give up.”
But for voters, Walz was the clear choice.
Mankatoan Bill Enger Sr., voting at Hosanna Lutheran Church, said the congressional choice was an easy one.
“Quist I wouldn’t vote for, period,” said Enger, a Korean War veteran. “I just don’t feel that he’s got the right things to offer. Walz has been in there, and he’s done a lot for the vets, and I think he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got to work with.”
Retiree Judy Perry was also voting at the polling place in the middle-class hilltop neighborhood.
“Tim Walz, I just like him,” Perry said. “There’s just something about the guy I like and trust.”
With a solid majority of 1st District residents apparently sharing those attitudes, the general election campaign was the quietest southern Minnesota congressional race since 2004 when Gutknecht picked up a 25-percentage-point win in his final victory.
From late in the 2006 campaign, when outside groups belatedly recognized that Walz was on the verge of an upset, the national political parties and affiliated interest groups have been pouring money into the 1st District congressional races year after year — until this year.
In 2012, most of the brawling in the 1st District occurred with Walz watching from the sidelines as Quist and Waseca state Sen. Mike Parry conducted an increasingly contentious battle for the party nomination through the winter and spring.
More than 300 Republican delegates found themselves deadlocked at an April endorsing convention in Mankato — despite 14 hours and 23 rounds of balloting. The failure to unify behind a candidate meant the intra-party combat would continue through the Aug. 14 primary election, and the two Republicans spent July and August bloodying each other.
Quist defeated Parry in the primary election and advanced to the November ballot for the first time since losing a 1990 legislative election when he was attempting to return to the state House seat he’d lost in 1988.
But by the time Republican voters finally settled on by-then-bruised Quist, national Republican Party officials and conservative special interest groups appeared to have given up any hope of unseating Walz.