WASHINGTON – Democrats in Minnesota’s 2nd District who want to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline are jumping into the race a full year earlier than the previous election cycle. The first candidate to announce is Sona Mehring, who recently stepped down as CEO of the nonprofit CaringBridge, which helps connect those who are hospitalized or ailing with friends and family.
In a press release Tuesday, Mehring said, “there is a crisis in Washington and I am ready to step up again with innovative solutions. Instead of helping solve the problem, Congressman Kline has become part of that gridlock and is out of touch with the people he was elected to represent.”
Mehring’s announcement is not a surprise. The political newcomer had hinted she was likely to run in an email exchange with MPR News two weeks ago.
The other DFL candidate likely to step into the race is former state Rep. Mike Obermueller, who challenged Kline in 2012. Obermueller similarly hinted at a likely rematch two weeks ago, and the Star Tribune reported Tuesday that he plans to make a formal announcement this week.
“We knew going into the 2012 campaign that six months might not be enough time for voters to really get to know me and understand the values that we share,” wrote Obermueller in March, referring to his April 2012 entry into the race last year.
The focus on the 2nd District comes as Democrats look to pick up the 17 seats they would need to capture the U.S. House from the GOP. The district is one of a handful nationwide that chose Democrat Barack Obama for President over Mitt Romney while still sending a Republican to the House.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put the 2nd on its list of “Red to Blue” districts and vows to pour money into the race.
Regardless of which Democrat is ultimately chosen to carry the party banner, defeating an entrenched incumbent is a difficult challenge that succeeded only one in every 10 tries last election cycle.