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Democrats, Republicans line up to compete for Rep. Kline's seat

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With Rep. John Kline announcing last week he won't seek re-election in 2016, his seat representing Minnesotans just southeast of the Twin Cities is quickly becoming a target of Democrats and Republicans.

The latest name to be added to the mix? Mike McFadden.

McFadden, the Star Tribune reports, said Monday he's considering running for the outgoing congressman's seat.

The 51-year-old was the Republican-endorsed candidate in the 2014 election, looking to out incumbent DFL Sen. Al Franken. But Franken took the race handily.

That came just a couple days after it was reported Mary Pawlenty, who served as a judge in Dakota County, may also look at Kline's spot. The former Minnesota first lady, whose husband Tim Pawlenty served as a Republican governor of Minnesota for eight years, isn't said to have a timetable for a final decision.

Both Pawlenty and McFadden might have a large field to wade through in order to get a party nomination.

So who else is eyeing Kline's chair?

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

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

Lawrence, a Minneapolis doctor who filed paperwork to run this past spring, has raised the most money with more than $1.1 million – though her financial summary shows $800,000 of that is a loan to herself.

Beyond those three, there are nine possible candidates – the Pioneer Press has a list of all of them, along with their party affiliation and whether they've officially said yes or are just considering a run at this point.

It includes two DFL state Reps., Rick Hansen and Joe Atkins; as well as Republican state Sens. Dave Thompson and Eric Pratt, plus state Reps. Steve Drazkowski and Tony Albright.

Why so much interest in the seat?

With the head count in U.S. Congress becoming seemingly more dependent each year upon party affiliation, two big players see Kline's exit (he's held the seat as a Republican since the 2002 elections) as an opportunity to gain a seat.

According to the Washington Examiner, Democrats see it as a possibility to be wrestled away 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.

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. They viewed Kline as too buddy-buddy with current House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, considered by Tea Party members to not be conservative enough.

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.

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