2 GOP lawmakers out, 1 DFL maybe in to go after Kline's US House seat

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There's more political shuffling going on as Minnesota state lawmakers decide whether or not to run for U.S. Rep. John Kline's seat in 2016.

Kline, an established Republican who first won Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in the 2002 elections, announced last week he won't seek re-election. Since then, the news of potential candidates being in or out has rolled through seemingly every day.

It may seem like a lot of early political shuffling, but it's a sign that Kline's seat is seen as important by a lot of people – and that was evident in 2014 too, when he became the target of Bill Maher's very public “Flip a District” campaign. (You can read more on the stakes below.)

So what's the latest?

State Rep. Joe Atkins, a DFLer from Inver Grove Heights, is considering running for the seat.

In an email, he said his phone hasn't stopped ringing since Kline's announcement, and s he's currently "giving serious and careful consideration" to the possibility– though noted he's been encouraged to consider a run for a different office as well.

Meanwhile two state Republican lawmakers are out.

Sen. Dave Thompson said Friday he's "honored" by the attention, but announced he won't run. The Lakeville representative had been considered by many to be a likely candidate.

Rep. Roz Peterson, also of Lakeville, also announced Friday she won't go for Kline's seat, the Star Tribune reports.

Why so much interest in the seat?

According to the Washington Examiner, Democrats see the seat as one to take from the Republican party, since the district’s residents voted for President Barack Obama during the 2012 election 49.1 to 49 percent, the paper notes.

The Republicans currently hold the majority of the House seats, with 246 members. The Democrats have 188 – so flipping as many seats as they can closes the gap. The GOP establishment, naturally, wants to hold its big advantage.

Meanwhile the more conservative wing of the Republicans, often defined by the Tea Party, hope to get another one of their own into U.S. Congress, the Examiner writes.

Gerson, one of the candidates highlighted by Politico in a story about the Tea Party “surge,” fits into the more conservative category – but he challenged Kline in the past two elections and lost.

Who else is running, or might run?

Three candidates have filed with the Federal Elections Committee, according to records.

  • Angela Craig, DFL
  • David Gerson, Republican
  • Mary Lawrence, DFL

Beyond those three, there are more possible candidates that haven't officially filed – the Pioneer Press has a list of all of them.

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