Erik Paulsen represented the Minnesota 3rd district from 2009 to 2019. In 2016, he won re-election with almost 57% of the vote; Trump, however, lost the district 41-50, the only Minnesota Congressional district where a Republican won that he lost.
But in 2018, Paulsen lost to a Democratic challenger, Dean Phillips, 44-55. What made the difference?
Having heard that Minnesota congressman Erik Paulsen was distancing himself from the White House in the hope of holding his seat in the Twin Cities’ suburbs, the president stewed and asked that the political shop send a tweet of support for Paulsen — thereby sabotaging the moderate Republican’s efforts,” according to an excerpt in Alberta’s new book “American Carnage. . . ” Inside Elections Jul 24, 2019
Paulsen knows his district; after 10 years representing it, he should. He knew that it went for Hillary by over 9 points, and he campaigned in 2016 by distancing himself from the Republican nominee. But Trump doesn’t like Republicans who don’t kiss his . . . shoes. So he sabotaged Paulsen — by issuing a tweet supporting him:
Congressman Erik Paulsen of the Great State of Minnesota has done a fantastic job in cutting Taxes and Job Killing Regulations. Hard working and very smart. Keep Erik in Congress. He has my Strong Endorsement! RealDonaldTrump 22 Oct 2018
According to the book, this tweet “left Paulsen fuming and his Democratic opponent giddy.”
Political Wire picked up this story to show that, despite his public denials, Trump knew he was a liability in 2018. I agree, but I also see a different angle: Trump is so determined to take revenge on any Republican who steps out of line that he will forfeit a House seat he can’t afford to lose in order to punish the miscreant (and no doubt frighten the rest of the GOP even more).
Now Paulsen did campaign saying he would stand up to Trump when he felt it was best for Minnesota, and he did criticize Trump’s 2018 meeting with Putin, calling it “dangerous” and “embarrassing.” But:
According to the FiveThirtyEight website's congressional vote tracking, Paulsen has voted 97.7 percent in favor of bills also supported by Trump. That's higher than either of his Republican colleagues in the Minnesota Congressional delegation. KSTP Oct 17, 2018
97.7% vote loyalty wasn’t enough. He had to say he was loyal.