GOP Rep. John Kline, target of Democrats in last election, won't run in 2016


Rep. John Kline will be done as a U.S. representative from Minnesota after his current term ends.

The Republican stalwart, who first won Minnesota's Second Congressional District in the 2002 elections, announced on Facebook he will not be running for re-election next year, a decision that came after "much careful thought and deliberation." (Scroll down to see it in full.)

The 67-year-old called public service "an honor I am proud to have embraced throughout my life," while noting there's still 16 months ahead for him to get work done.

"And I will stay true to my conservative values focusing on the critical work of reining in runaway federal spending, deficits, and debt that are a barrier to our economic recovery," he writes.

Kurt Daudt, Minnesota's speaker of the House, tweeted his reaction:

Kline, born in Pennsylvania and a former helicopter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps, currently serves as chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, and is a member of the Armed Services Committee, Ballotpedia says.

Kline is the latest in a line of long-serving representatives for the district south of the Twin Cities. Seven people have held that seat since 1941 – and six of them were Republicans.

You can see a rundown of Kline's voting record via On the Issues, which tracks votes on topics such as abortion, education, drugs, energy and more.

GovTrack rates Kline as one of farthest-right representatives in the House of Representatives.

Target of Democrats in 2014

In 2014 Kline became a high-profile target for Democrats who sought to oust him from the seat. The most prominent public battle came from talk show host and comedian Bill Maher, who staged a contest called "Flip a District" – an effort by the openly liberal personality to get an incumbent Republican out of office.

Maher even visited the district in an effort to rally support. Here's the video (though note that Maher is an HBO host, so language and content aren't a concern for him.)

He was specifically criticized for his student loan policies, which CityPages wrote about, saying he's pushed to increase interest rates on student loans while protecting for-profit colleges.

It's also been pointed out that his top contributors during the 2013-14 election cycle were education groups, with Open Secrets saying he got nearly $285,000 from them during that time – more than double the second-highest contributing industry.

But Kline cruised to a victory last year anyway, beating Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller 56 percent to 38.9 percent.

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Rep. John Kline fighting for re-election in redrawn district

The popular fifth-term congressman has to fight a bit harder than he is used to in his re-election bid this year against Democrat Mike Obermueller in the 2nd District race. The candidates plan to launch TV ads on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.