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.
Next week, Republican David Gerson will kick off his 2014 campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline.
"We know the number one people are leaving our party is the lessor of two evils argument," Gerson said. "We want to give people a choice."
He said Kline, first elected in 2002, espouses the Republican values of "limited government, individual liberty and free markets" but has not voted those values.
Gerson ran against Kline in a primary in the south suburban and rural Second Congressional District last year and got 15 percent of the vote.
"Last year, we really were just trying to send a message to John Kline," Gerson said. "We didn’t run a serious campaign last time."
This year Gerson is starting earlier and has already spoken at local Republican groups, made thousands of calls to activists and primary voters, he said. He also has Marianne Stebbins, who coordinated presidential candidate Ron Paul's well organized Minnesota campaign last year, as his campaign co-chair.
"We are very confident that we are going to be taking the endorsement," he said. "We are the Republican Party."
Gerson says on his campaign website that he will abide by the endorsement, which means he will not run in an August primary if local Republicans do not give him the nod in the Spring.
Asked about Gerson's plans, Troy Young, Kline's spokesman said: "Congressman Kline will continue fighting for all Minnesotans as their premiums skyrocket or they are losing their health insurance altogether due to the ObamaCare train wreck that is wreaking havoc on our economy."
On Monday morning, Gerson will hold a media event at the Minnesota Capitol's state office building to announce his plans to seek the Republican endorsement.
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.
While President Obama was tweaking the Affordable Care Act Thursday to extend expiring insurance policies for another year, U.S. Rep. John Kline was holding a hearing in his Education and Workforce Committee to explore another potential pitfall of the law.
In a new challenge to the health care overhaul, the Minnesota Republican has been highlighting the financial burden that it could impose on school districts and colleges that have to comply with the federal mandate to provide coverage for their employees.
Though the mandate has been pushed back a year, educators and school district officials from around the nation warned of the unintended budget consequences of covering part-time and semi-part workers such as teaching aides, adjunct instructors, cooks, bus drivers and others who work more than 30 hours a week.
A recent analysis of Minnesota Education Department data by the conservative-leaning Watchdog Minnesota found that 22,800 non-licensed school employees work between 30 and 39 hours a week, making them eligible for required benefits under the new health law.
State education officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Critics of the law warn that the 30-hour threshold will force schools, just like other employers, to limit hours, cut jobs, or incur greater costs.
While some educators have asked that the coverage threshold be raised to 40 hours, Democrats on the committee argued that the change would hurt part-time workers who will otherwise be insured.
Kline argues that the law’s employer mandate could hurt the educational system at all levels. “Americans continue to express their concerns about Obamacare and the troubling impact it is having on their lives,” Kline said in the lead-up to the hearing. “Our nation’s schools are not immune to the consequences of this law.”
Congressional incumbents in two potential swing districts, U.S. Reps. John Kline and Tim Walz, have healthy fundraising leads over their announced opponents.
In the Second Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline has more than $1.3 million stocked away for his re-election campaign after raising $367,000 during the third quarter.
Kline’s Republican challenger, David Gerson, raised $2,085 during the quarter and has $2,000 banked for his bid, according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission. Gerson challenged Kline in last year’s Republican primary, capturing 15 percent of the vote.
Among the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, attorney Mike Obermueller of Eagan raised $73,000 during the quarter, which includes the months of July, August and September. He has $119,000 cash on hand.
Obermueller is making a second run at Kline after losing to him by eight percentage points in last year’s election. But with roughly a year to go until Election Day 2014, Kline’s war chest is 11 times larger than Obermueller’s.
The second district covers the suburbs south of the Twin Cities.
The campaign finance reports for Democratic candidates, Thomas Craft and Paula Overby, were not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has $238,500 banked for his 2014 re-election bid in southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District after raising $176,648 during the third quarter.
Among the three Republicans seeking to oust Walz, state Rep. Mike Benson of Rochester has $14,707 stockpiled for the race and businessman Aaron Miller of Byron has $54,714 banked. Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn’s finance report was not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Benson raised $28,158 during the quarter. Miller loaned his campaign $40,000 and collected another $16,127 in donations.
In the state’s Eight Congressional District, Republican challenger Stewart Mills raised almost $244,000 during the quarter, with Mills and his wife contributing about $10,000 of that total, his campaign reported. Incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan’s campaign finance reports were not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Four of Minnesota’s representatives – Democrats Keith Ellison in the Fifth District, Betty McCollum in the Fourth District and Collin Peterson in the Seventh District and Republican Erik Paulsen – do not have announced opponents.
Paulsen raised more than $376,000 and has more than $1.5 million in the bank. Ellison raised $309,000 and has $186,248 stockpiled. McCollum collected $99,219 and has $89,076 in the bank. Peterson has about $227,000 cash-on-hand after raising $83,000 during the quarter.
Click here for campaign finance reports from the Sixth Congressional District, where Rep. Michele Bachmann will not seek re-election.
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