Republican David Gerson on Monday said his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline is not a Tea Party whim.
Gerson, who ran against Kline last year, said his quest for the endorsement is serious, viable has the goal of redefining the Republican party.
"My campaign is less about challenging a Republican incumbent and more of an effort to define Republicanism consistent with the conservative principles of the people of the Second Congressional District," Gerson said.
Gerson said Kline, who was first elected in 2002, has a "moderate, bordering on progressive voting record" at a time when spending, debt and government needs to be reigned in. Gerson said he plans on dropping out if he does not get the GOP endorsement from activists last year.
Troy Young, spokesman for Kline, said Gerson is not to be trusted.
“As a Marine and Minnesotan, Kline has built a lifelong reputation on character, integrity, and honesty while Mr. Gerson bases his campaign on falsehoods and half-truths. Why should Gerson be trusted?" Young said in a statement. Young did not answer a press inquiry about whether Kline would abide by the endorsement, meaning he would end his bid for re-election if activists pick Gerson before a primary.
Last year, Gerson got 15 percent of the vote in a primary against Kline's 85 percent of the vote. Kline went on to win the district, which Democratic president Barack Obama narrowly won, with 54 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller's 46 percent. Obermueller is running again.
On Monday, Gerson said he would look at all legislation through the prism of limited government, free markets, individual rights and constitutional limits.
"I would look at the constitution and determine what powers ..were given to the federal government by the constitution. Those powers that exist and those rules of the federal government that aren't constitutional, I would be looking to cut," he said. Marianne Stebbins, who coordinated Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's Minnesota campaign in 2012, is working with Gerson's campaign.
Asked about his views about legalizing marijuana, Gerson initially avoided answering and then said "it is not a federal issue. I believe drugs are bad...I think drugs are terrible. I don't want to see anyone using them but it is not a federal issue."
Kline has bulked up his war chest in advance of the 2014 election and currently sits on $1.3 million in the bank. Gerson, who said he is just ramping up his fundraising, Gerson has a $91,000 debt in his campaign, from his loan of personal funds, and $2,000 cash on hand.