Several Republicans are expressing interest in running for Congress in Minnesota’s 6th District now that GOP U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has said she won’t run for re-election.
Here’s a list of potential candidates and what they’re saying today:
Former state Rep. Tom Emmer: Emmer lost his bid for governor in 2010 and told us that he had no interest in running in 2014 when a “Draft Emmer for Governor” group was launched earlier this year. But things have obviously changed with Bachmann’s decision. Emmer represented Wright County during his time in the Legislature – a county that has a huge GOP presence in the district. He also won the 6th District vote for governor in 2010 by a wide margin. Emmer hasn’t returned messages this morning. Update: Emmer issued a statement saying “he’s strongly considering running for the open seat.” He said he’ll make his intentions known in the very near future.
Former state Rep. Phil Krinkie: Krinkie is president of the Minnesota Taxpayers League. He says he’s considering a run and even joked that he still has his lawn signs from his failed 2006 bid for Congress. He lost the GOP endorsement to Bachmann that year.
State Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood: Dean told the AP that he’s thinking about a run. He was Minnesota House Majority Leader in 2011 and 2012. He currently lives in the 4th District but he doesn’t have to live in the district to run for Congress (see Bachmann in 2012).
State Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover: Scott is a fierce conservative who could garner support from Bachmann supporters. She has served in the House since 2009. “It’s something that I’m considering,” Scott said. “It is something that will be a family decision.”
State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake: Benson told MPR News that she’s considering a run. “Opportunities like this come every 10 or 20 years so they deserve appropriate consideration,” she said. Benson says she’ll speak with her family and friends about running and then make a decision.
State Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine: Sanders says he’s considering a run. Sanders, 30, says he considers himself a solid conservative but is attractive to middle of the road voters. “I’m young and would provide Washington with some fresh blood and another common sense voice,” Sanders said. “The 6th has been fairly divided over the past few years and it would be helpful to have somebody that is a listener and chose to represent everyone despite whether you agree with all of their votes.”
State Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville: Fischbach served as president of the Minnesota Senate in 2011 and 2012. She is a fiscal conservative whose husband, Scott, is executive director of the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Fischbach has not returned messages today.
State Rep. David Fitzsimmons, R-Albertville: The former 6th District Republican Chair said that he’s not interested in running but could help determine who wins the GOP endorsement. Fitzsimmons knows the 6th District GOP delegates, ran Tom Emmer’s campaign for governor and had close ties to Bachmann. He said any candidate who considers a bid should think about the size of the district and the time it takes to mount a viable campaign.
State Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover: Petersen said that he’s not interested in running. He said he has three years left in his Senate term and wants to focus on that. Petersen was one of a handful of Republicans in the Legislature who voted for a bill to legalize same-sex marriage which may sour some Republicans to a possible Petersen bid.
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake: Kiffmeyer is in her first term in the Minnesota Senate but she has the street cred to win in the 6th. She’s won a statewide race and served as Minnesota’s Secretary of State. She also served in the Minnesota House. Kiffmeyer didn’t return calls this morning.
Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah: Sivarajah serves as chair of the Anoka County Board. She was first elected to the board in 2002. She was also Marty Seifert’s running mate in 2010 (Seifert lost the GOP endorsement to Tom Emmer). She says she’s seriously considering a run.
“It’s a gut check kind of feel thing for me,” Sivarajah said about the decision. She said she helped change the spending decisions in Anoka County. She said they reduced the county’s property tax levy two years in a row and also reduced the county’s debt.
Pat Shortridge: The former chair of the Minnesota Republican Party was mentioned as a possible candidate by Vin Weber. Shortridge is no stranger to Minnesota politics. One thing he’ll have to consider is whether he wants to run for Congress and give up some of his political consulting work. He’s currently consulting for several candidates including gubernatorial hopeful Scott Honour.
Pete Hegseth: Hegseth told MinnPost that he’s considering a run. He lost the GOP endorsement for U.S. Senate in 2012 to Kurt Bills. Hegseth’s military background could be helpful in the district. Hegseth didn’t return calls this morning. Update: Hegseth said he’s strongly considering a run.
Jason Lewis: Lewis is a radio host on KTLK. He has been mentioned as a candidate for U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Al Franken and could shift gears and run for Congress.
Lewis has pondered runs for office before but has never taken the plunge. Update: Lewis has never run for office in Minnesota but lost a bid for Congress in Colorado in 1990.