Benson jumps into race with Walz

State Rep. Mike Benson announces in Rochester that he’s running for Congress. (MPR Photo/Elizabeth Baier)
  1. Listen Mike Benson’s speech to supporters

    June 13, 2013

State Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, kicked off a campaign for Congress today in Rochester.

The two-term lawmaker told an audience of supporters this morning that he’s “all in” when it comes to his run. He said he’s concerned about government spending, federal government overreach and President Obama’s policies.

He criticized DFL Rep. Tim Walz for backing  Obama’s agenda in Congress.

“I can no longer sit back and see our country be moved not forward by its leaders and representatives but backward to a time when kings and his minions regulated every facet of the lives of our subjects. We are not subjects. We are free men and women,” Benson said.

A spokesman for Benson says Benson is planning on winning his party’s endorsement but didn’t completely rule out running a primary if someone else gets the party nod.

Republicans have been bullish about defeating Walz since he defeated GOP Rep. Gil Gutknecht in 2006 but have failed in their attempt to win back the seat.

It isn’t clear whether any other Republicans will run, but former GOP state Sen. Al DeKruif and former GOP state Sen. Mike Parry told the Rochester Post-Bulletin that they’re thinking about it. Parry lost the GOP endorsement to former state Rep. Allen Quist in 2012.

State DFL Party Chair Ken Martin was quick to criticize Benson.

“After Michele Bachmann announced her retirement, Benson said that her voice will be missed in Congress. Benson will try to fill her void as an extremist who cares more about partisan politics than getting things done for constituents,” said Martin.  ”The hard-working folks in southern Minnesota deserve someone who represents their values, not another Michele Bachmann.”

MPR’s Elizabeth Baier contributed to this report.