Pete Hegseth: From war zone to Senate campaign

Newly returned Afghan veteran announces run for Republican nomination against Klobuchar.

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Pete Hegseth acknowledges that he’s aiming high in his first campaign. He’s only a year over the age requirement to run for the U.S. Senate.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Trading the battlefield for a political battle, Pete Hegseth launched his campaign for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

Just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Hegseth, 31, has never run for public office and is launching a campaign against a popular Democratic incumbent with just months to go before the August GOP primary. But he says he has the ideas and drive that Minnesota needs.

"There's a reason we got into this race late. I just got back from an overseas tour in Afghanistan, where I was serving with the Army National Guard," said Hegseth, who returned in January from his third tour of duty. He was serving as an instructor in counter-insurgency techniques for U.S., NATO and Afghan troops.

"War has taught me, repeatedly, some very, very important lessons," Hegseth said, "among them that time is precious and what we have in this country is worth fighting for."

He enters the race just as two other GOP hopefuls abandoned their bids to unseat first-term U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who's proven a formidable fundraiser and is popular in polls.

In response to his announcement, the Klobuchar campaign issued a statement: "Senator Klobuchar has always put Minnesota first and will continue to fight for balanced, common-sense solutions that work for all Minnesotans, regardless of her opponent."

Hegseth acknowledged that he's aiming high in his first campaign. He's only a year over the age requirement to run for the U.S. Senate.

"I know I'm 31 years of age and that's a young age to run for the United States Senate, but I think 18-year-olds have some good ideas, I think 65-year-olds have some good ideas. And I think some 51-year-olds don't have good ideas," he said, in an indirect reference to the incumbent.

"Nothing worth doing is easy. Nothing in life has perfect timing, so it's one of those things where I look at what's at stake in this election," he added. "[Klobuchar] has a reputation to defend, and I feel like I'm equipped and our campaign will be equipped to draw that clear contrast."

He joins a GOP field that includes former state Rep. Dan Severson, Harold Shudlick and Bob Carney. St. Paul businessman Anthony Hernandez and St. Bonifacius City Councilman Joe Arwood dropped out of the race last week.

Hegseth said he would seek the state GOP's endorsement for the nomination and abide by its decision.

He's a captain in the National Guard and executive director of Vets for Freedom, a group that advocates on behalf of political candidates it views as supporting the war on terror. He was born in Forest Lake and graduated from Princeton University. He and his wife, Samantha, have a son, Gunner.

The campaign's official website is www.peteforsenate.com.

Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049

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