ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack and his Democratic opponent, Rick Nolan, hunted before dawn Saturday on outings that were as much about showing their comfort with guns as bagging a buck.
Both passed on shooting deer, hoping for bigger prizes — during the hunting season and on Election Day. They're in a hard fight for Cravaack's northeastern Minnesota seat in one of the nation's top House races.
Cravaack, 53, spent some time in the woods but then headed to a Duluth gear and gun store to campaign with National Rifle Association president David Keene and Rep. John Kline, R-Minn. Cravaack is trying to hang onto a seat he won in 2010 after it had been in Democratic hands for more than 60 years. The national parties and their allies have spent nearly $9 million on the race, largely on negative TV ads.
The candidates — who together spent less than $2 million by mid-October — both lamented the onslaught of ads from outside groups.
"People are just kind of tired of it right now," Cravaack said. "They just want to refocus. They want to get the economy going again."
Nolan, 68, emphasized his support for Second Amendment gun rights as he prepared to campaign close to his home near Brainerd. The former congressman has been the target of ads attacking him for missed votes and supporting raises when he served more than three decades ago.
"If I had some more money, I would be putting up another ad that points out that I was a very respected legislator," Nolan said.
Elsewhere in the state, volunteers and candidates hustled to make phone calls, knock on doors and remind people to vote Tuesday.
One of the biggest turnout efforts came from opponents of proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Minnesotans United for All Families spokeswoman Kate Brickman said the group had 15,000 volunteers signed up for shifts over the last eight days before the election. In an effort to reach a million voters by Election Day, they were contacting both those who oppose the ballot question and those who hadn't made up their minds yet.