|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 8th district
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Jim Oberstar|
|Succeeded by||Rick Nolan|
|Born||Raymond John Cravaack
December 29, 1959
Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
|Alma mater||United States Naval Academy
University of West Florida
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||Navy: 1981–1990
Naval Reserve: 1990–2005
Raymond John "Chip" Cravaack (born December 29, 1959) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for northeastern Minnesota's 8th congressional district from 2011 to 2013. In his first try for political office, he upset 18-term Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar by a margin of 4,400 votes to become the first Republican since 1947 to represent the district. Previously, Cravaack was a pilot for Northwest Airlines, and before that he was a Navy pilot, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He was defeated by DFL candidate Rick Nolan on November 6, 2012.
Early life and education
Cravaack was born in Charleston, West Virginia on December 29, 1959. His ancestry includes German, Italian, and Romanian-German. He grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, graduating from St. Xavier High School in 1977. He was raised a Republican in a family that had a military background; his father, Ray, served in the Korean War, and his grandfather served in World War I. Cravaack graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981, receiving a bachelor of science degree.
Following graduation, Cravaack served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot, fulfilling an early ambition. While in the Navy, he earned a master's degree in education from the University of West Florida to prepare for his post-military career. After his discharge from active duty, he served in the Naval Reserve, primarily with aircraft carrier crew augmentation unit, doing administrative work in support, and retiring in 2009 with the rank of Captain.
Northwest Airlines career
Cravaack moved to Africa and began working as a pilot for Northwest Airlines in 1990. He was out of work for two years in the early 1990s due to strikes, layoffs, and the bankruptcy of Northwest, during which time he gave flying lessons.
He was a union steward for the Airline Pilots Association. He served as a "strike coordinator" during the 1998 pilots' strike, bringing military discipline and parade-ground style marching to the picket lines.
He and his family settled in Lindstrom, northeast of Minneapolis. He retired from Northwest in 2007 due to sleep apnea, receiving a $79,000 per year as medical disability pension, and becoming a stay-at-home dad for a time. In addition, Cravaack has said he drew unemployment benefits during a furlough from Northwest in the early 1990s.
U.S. House of Representatives
He was inspired to run for Congress by a suggestion from a talk radio show host that voters demand town hall meetings with their congressmen during the health care bill Tea Party movement protests of August 2009. Cravaack went with 25 people to one of Oberstar's Minnesota offices asking for a meeting that day and when Oberstar did not come, Cravaack decided to challenge him in the November 2010 election.
Cravaack entered the race as a political novice and an underdog. The 8th had been in Democratic hands since 1947, and Oberstar was the longest-serving Congressman in Minnesota's history, usually cruising to re‑election. Geography also seemed to be against Cravaack as well; his home in Lindstrom is located in Chisago County, in the southern portion of the district.
According to the Star Tribune, Cravaack's campaign was "structured like a military operation". He toured the district in a motor home dubbed "The War Wagon," and ranked volunteers with titles such as commander, captain, and precinct lieutenant. He discovered that his experience as a union steward attracted the interest of district voters, especially the miners.
Cravaack campaigned on a platform of free-market principles and government spending cuts. He attacked Oberstar's vote on the health care bill, saying he would vote to repeal and replace it, and called an Oberstar-approved extension of the Clean Water Act to include wet meadows, a "land grab" by the federal government. He criticized the earmark process that Oberstar had used to fund infrastructure projects in the district, saying it was time for the spending to stop. Cravaack also attacked Oberstar's vote on "cap and trade" legislation to limit carbon emissions, saying it would result in higher energy prices. In his first ad, Cravaack paid homage to Oberstar's service, saying that he ran against Oberstar "with all due respect," but accused him of having lost touch with the district.
A candidate debate held in Duluth featured a crowd that jeered Oberstar, with Oberstar calling for a more civil atmosphere at the next debate. The second debate centered on economic issues. Cravaack argued that the 2003 Bush tax cuts should be continued on all tax brackets to stimulate employment, and Oberstar said he would end the tax cut for the top two percent of earners, because the lowered tax had caused part of the deficit.
A poll conducted for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities in October showed Oberstar ahead of Cravaack by only one point, 47 to 46 percent. Cravaack received the endorsement of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as the polls tightened. He was also endorsed by Minnesota's largest pro-life organization, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, and the largest newspaper in the district, the Duluth News Tribune. In the November 2 election, Cravaack scored one of the biggest upsets in Minnesota political history, defeating Oberstar by only 4,400 votes, 48 percent to 47 percent. Cravaack believed the abortion issue was crucial to his victory; he had argued that the health care legislation that Oberstar had voted for allowed for the payment of abortions with taxpayer funds, and encouraged euthanasia for the elderly. By the time he won the election, Cravaack had modified his view of the bill, saying that it was an example of socialized medicine that will result in the rationing of medical care.
Cravaack was defeated by Democratic nominee Rick Nolan, a former U.S. Representative for the 6th district.
In March 2011, Cravaack came under criticism by Duluth students and community leaders for his vote in favor of a budget bill making drastic cuts to the federal Pell Grant program that provides financial aid to college students, including 30 percent of the students at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He also came to press attention for implying during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was furthering the goals of a terrorist organization.
In March 2012 Cravaack introduced a bill in Congress that would allow mining and logging in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest through a land exchange that would bypass environmental reviews, with proceeds going to the school districts.
He also sponsored a bill, which became law that the TSA ensures that military personnel were treated with respect while traveling on orders or while wearing their uniforms. “The bill’s intent, he said, is that the military personnel would be able to go through security with the same ease as registered flyers.” 
He is against sequestration and voted against the Budget Control Act, stating “You cut with a scalpel not a meat ax." 
In the elections held on November 6, 2012, Cravaak was defeated for re-election by 9 points by Democratic former Congressman Rick Nolan.
- 112th Congress
- Committee on Homeland Security
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Committee on Science, Space and Technology
|2010 Eighth Congressional District of Minnesota Elections|
|DFL||James Oberstar (incumbent)||129,091||47%|
|Constitution||Richard (George) Burton||2,492||1%|
|Republican gain from DFL|
|2012 Eighth Congressional District of Minnesota Elections|
|Republican||Chip Cravaack (incumbent)||160,520||45.39%|
|DFL gain from Republican|
Cravaack is married and is the father of two boys. His wife works for a pharmaceutical company, but does not do any lobbying in Washington, D.C. His wife and children live in New Hampshire, which Cravaack said is attributed to his son’s autistic condition and to be closer to take care of his family while he was in Washington, although he continues to reside in Minnesota.
- "Representative Raymond John Cravaack (Chip) (R-Minnesota, 8th)". LegiStorm. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Steve Karnowski (November 3, 2010). "Cravaack plays giant killer in Congressional race". Winona Daily News. The Associated Press. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Friedrich, Alex; Kraker, Dan; Zdechlik, Mark (November 6, 2012). "Nolan defeats Cravaack in 8th District". Retrieved November 6, 2012.
- "Raymond "Chip" Cravaack". Official Congressional Directory : 112th Congress. Washington, D. C.: United States Government Printing Office. 2011. p. 146. ISBN 9780160886539.
- "Chip Cravaack ('77)". Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Xavier High School. July 20, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- Kevin Diaz and Eric Roper (November 13, 2010). "Chip Cravaack gets ready to report for duty". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Eric Roper (October 14, 2010). "Has Oberstar met his match?". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "About Chip". Chip Cravaack for Congress. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Bruce Bisping (October 23, 2010). "Jobs carry debate as Oberstar-Cravaack rematch stays civil". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- Cravaack's first ad
- "Poll: Oberstar in Tight 8th District Race". Minneapolis and St. Paul: KSTP-TV. October 29, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Albert Eisele (November 4, 2010). "Oberstar's stunning defeat makes history". The Minnesota Post. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Renalls, Candace (November 3, 2010). "Cravaack defeats Oberstar in 8th District race". Duluth News Tribune. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- Derek Wallbank (November 4, 2010). "Make that two: Cravaack will back Bachmann for leadership post". Minnesota Post. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Bob Kelleher (March 3, 2011). "Cravaack under fire for vote to cut financial aid". Minnesota Public Radio News.
- Joe Kimball (March 11, 2011). "Cravaack tangles with L.A. sheriff at Muslim hearing". Minnesota Post. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "Scrutiny needed on BWCA swap: Boundary Waters land deal would mostly benefit industry". Star Tribune. July 16, 2012.
- Palcich, Elanne (March 8, 2012). "Exchanging school trust lands isn't 'for the sake of our children'". MinnPost.
- O'Rourke, Mike (October 21, 2012). "Cravaack: Nation’s Financial Problems Demand Action Now". Brainerd Dispatch. Brainerd, Minnesota.
- Kimball, Joe (October 22, 2012). "Duluth Paper Again Endorses Cravaack in 8th District Congressional Race". MinnPost.
- "Committees and caucuses". Congressman Chip Cravaack, Proudly Representing the 8th District of Minnesota. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence". The House Committee on Homeland Security. March 2, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Subcommittee on Transportation Security". The House Committee on Homeland Security. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Mica Announces Subcommittee Chairmen & Memberships for the 112th Congress" (Press release). Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Republicans. January 20, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation". Committee on Science - U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Results from Congressional District 08". Minnesota Secretary of State. January 19, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "Results from Congressional District 08". Minnesota Secretary of State. November 9, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
- Diaz, Kevin (October 26, 2012). "For Cravaack, Residency Clash Gets Deeply Personal". Star Tribune.
- Diaz, Kevin (March 25, 2012). "Family's move puts Rep. Chip Cravaack in a political bind". Star Tribune Politics. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Congressman Chip Cravaack official U.S. House site (archived)
- Cravaack for Congress official campaign site (archived)
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 8th congressional district