Nine-term Republican state Rep. Ron Erhardt, who failed to gain his party's endorsement after bucking the party line and voting for a state gas tax increase, said Friday that he will run for his Minnesota House seat as an independent.
Erhardt, who represents Edina, was one of six Republicans to support the gas tax increase and defy a veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The six votes enabled House DFLers to override the veto and push through the state's first gas tax increase since 1988.
Republicans endorsed newcomer Keith Downey for Erhardt's seat; DFLer Kevin Staunton also is running.
Erhardt said he was approached by both the DFL and Independence parties, but decided to run without party affiliation. He joked that he is now his own party -- the Moderate Independents.
After he was stripped of committee leadership by House GOP caucus leaders, Erhardt showed up at a DFL endorsing convention and received a standing ovation, even while he was being pilloried by Republicans for his gas tax vote.
Erhardt said he would likely caucus with the majority DFLers if reelected.
To run, Erhardt will have to file for office by Tuesday. The primary election is Sept. 9.