SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Allen Quist is attributing his Tuesday election loss in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District to a surprise DFL voter turnout fueled by Minnesota's constitutional amendments and a lack of support from national Republican organizations.
Quist, a former state lawmaker and a farmer, lost 142,162 votes, or 42 percent, to the 193,209 votes, or 57 percent, of his DFL incumbent opponent U.S Rep. Tim Walz.
He said that his internal polling showed him 4 to 7 percent behind Walz a month before the election.
He also significantly trailed Walz in campaign fundraising throughout the race. He raised around $520,000 for the whole campaign, with roughly 86 percent of the money coming from Quist himself, compared to Walz's nearly $2 million raised.
Quist said he had high expectations for a Republican wave, similar to the 2010 elections, because of early predictions from political activists like Dick Morris. However, he said he was caught off-guard by the large voter turnout, which he said was fueled by DFL voters and young voters turning out in force against the constitutional amendments on voter ID and marriage. He said that several races saw DFL support go up by approximately 7 percent, giving the example to 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann at a projected 8 points ahead in the polls to winning by barely 1 point.
Quist also cited the lack of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) for giving Walz a further advantage and for his failure to reach his promise of raising $1 million for his campaign. He said that the NRCC promised to commit $1 million to his campaign after he won the primary, but ultimately it never told him of any change and contributed any funding. He said that he does not blame the organization for taking the funding where it thought it would be better utilized. However, he said the NRCC failure to inform him about its change of plans disrupted his fundraising plans and prevented him from getting access to PAC money, which he said he planned on for reaching his $1 million goal.
Quist previously told the Rochester Post-Bulletin that he had turned down the funds for ads from the NRCC because he wanted to focus on local, inexpensive TV ads produced by 1st District companies. However, he is now claiming it was due to the NRCC never providing the money in the first place and said he made the statement after it was clear the NRCC money was not going to materialize.
He said that even if these factors had not benefitted Walz, it would have been difficult to win due to the incumbency advantage for Walz. He said that the Republican surge he had expected or more help from national Republican organizations would have been needed to win.
Looking forward, Quist said he has no plans on whether he will run again. He said he's focused on being back home, and that he even bagged a six-point buck when he went hunting right after the election. He did say that he makes his money through investments, so he tries not to force anything and tries to only enter areas where he has a reasonable opportunity of success.
He said he had no regrets over how his campaign was run. He said he was particularly proud of what success was achieved with an almost entirely volunteer staff and low-cost, local TV ads.
Regarding the overall results, he said he feels the government is headed in the wrong direction and is concerned that very hard financial times face the country.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)