By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Kevin Diaz
Former WCCO anchor Don Shelby has ended Democrats' hopes he will run for Congress.
"The decision is made, after a lot of consultation...it became clear to me that this was the wrong time in life for the wrong guy, to make a run for congress," Shelby told the Star Tribune, confirming Thursday media reports.
National Democrats had pressed Shelby to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen. He is well known throughout the state and Democrats hoped he could have made inroads in the moderate suburban Third Congressional District, which has long been in Republican hands.
But the long time television fixture he made clear that electoral politics is not for him.
In dashing Democrats' hopes, Shelby joins the long line of top potential recruits deciding to sit out 2014 runs for office.
Republicans had talked up potential U.S. Senate runs from U.S. Rep. John Kline and Paulsen but both sitting House members decided they would stick with the districts that brought them to Washington instead.
Democrats had been high on businessman Jim Graves, who had plotted a second run against Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann next year. But shortly after Bachmann announced she would not run, Graves followed suit.
DFLers had also been excited about CaringBridge website founder Sona Mehring's announced run against Kline. But, shortly after Kline said he would run for the House again next year, Mehring said she had decided to return to work at the nonprofit website for the families of ill people that she nursed into a multimillion dollar venture.
Across the country, many potential recruits have decided not to enter the fetid world of Washington politics, seeing more possibility for change outside its partisan walls.
"There were two frightening possibilities: One that I would be elected, and one that I would lose," Shelby said on Friday.
He told WCCO, his former home, that : "When you see statements by John Boehner that says our job is not to pass laws but to repeal them, it makes you wonder who in his or her right mind would really want to get into that business, especially if they come from a background of trying to change things."
The former anchor, who would start the race as a political newcomer, considered but never fully embraced the idea of a political run. He told the Star Tribune that he probably would not have excelled in Washington, didn't really consider himself a Democrat and was uncomfortable leaving journalism behind.
"I really don’t think I’d be a very good representative for the Third District of Minnesota because as a freshman I would probably come in there pretty loud and opinionated, but opinionated based on facts," he said. "And I probably wouldn’t be the perfect Democrat candidate because my tendency as a reporter is to go where the facts are, and if the conservatives held the facts on one side, then I’d have a tendency to find some importance in supporting public policy based in the facts that they held.”
Paulsen won his third term last year with 58 percent of the vote, the same year Democratic President Obama won 49 percent of the vote in the district narrowly edging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 3,000 votes.