EVELETH, Minn. — On northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, where evergreen trees stretch on for miles and snowpack lingers into the spring, a political shift is underway.
Generations of residents have gone to work in the mines, endured cycles of booms and layoffs, and mostly voted for Democrats. But President Trump’s tariffs on imported steel are being celebrated as a boost to the local taconite mines, which supply American steel mills, and Republicans are hopeful that they can flip the area’s congressional seat in November.
“President Trump is keeping his promises that he made on the campaign trail,” said Pete Stauber, a retired police officer and former professional hockey player who is running for Congress as a Republican. “He talked about leveling the playing field for the American worker. He did that with the tariffs.”
Much has been said about groups who dislike the tariffs: a bipartisan mix of manufacturers, farmers and politicians who warn of trade disputes and unforeseen consequences. China’s announcement on Wednesday of proposed tariffs on a range of American exports — including soybeans, chemicals and cars — heightened concern that a trade war could be looming.
But in a few places where Republicans see openings to win seats and upend a national political forecast that seems to favor Democrats in November, the 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum are viewed as economic lifelines straight from the Oval Office.
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