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Another Republican joins high-stakes race for Rep. Kline's seat next year

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There are now two Republicans in the race to take Rep. John Kline's soon-to-be-open U.S. House seat.

Former state Sen. and former Red Wing Mayor John Howe announced Tuesday he'll run for Kline's seat in 2016. Kline, a Republican who has represented Minnesota's Second Congressional District since 2003, announced earlier this month he won't seek re-election.

Howe becomes the second official Republican candidate in the race, along with Tea Party favorite David Gerson (who challenged Kline in 2014 and 2012, but lost both times). There are also two Democratic candidates who have said they'll be in the mix.

“I’m not a career politician and am not pursuing this because I need a job," Howe said in the release. "Washington, D.C. is filled with too many people who are political insiders, I’ve spent my life building my businesses and raising my family.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Howe said he'd spend up to $500,000 of his own money to help his campaign, the Pioneer Press reports.

The 52-year-old is the owner of Howe Properties, based in Red Wing. He served as the city's mayor from 2008 through 2010, when he was elected to the state Legislature representing District 28 (the very southeast corner of the state). He lost his 2012 re-election bid for that seat.

His campaign site describes him as standing up for conservative approaches to reduce government's footprint.

Gerson, other candidates

In Gerson, he'll face a candidate who has staked out an even more conservative corner of the Republican Party. He was highlighted by Politico in a story about the Tea Party “surge.”

Gerson recently spoke at an event in Red Wing, MPR News reports, telling supporters he wants to defund Planned Parenthood and reduce the size of the federal government. He also praised elected Republicans who are standing up and defying the party's entrenched leaders.

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

  • Angela Craig, DFL
  • 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.

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.

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