State Rep. Joyce Peppin kicked off the candidate-filings season in Minnesota in her traditional way -- by pulling an all-nighter in a patio lounge chair outside the Secretary of State's Office so she could be the first to file in person Tuesday morning.
"It was better than tickets to Taylor Swift," Peppin, R-Rogers, said after paying her $100 filing fee to seek a fifth term in the House. It is also the fifth time she has camped out to file, which she views as a way of showing her level of excitement and interest in serving her district.
She was joined by johnny-come-latelys who arrived a few minutes before the office opened for business at 8 a.m. -- state Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who is running for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democrat Tim Walz; and former congressman Rick Nolan, a Democrat who filed for the 8th Congressional District seat held by Republican Chip Cravaak.
Dick Franson, an 83-year-old military veteran and perennial candidate, was among the early-filers, his 26th trip to the Secretary of State's counter. Franson, a Democrat, is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. State Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, was also among the early-rising filers.
Tuesday marks the opening of the candidate-filing window for Minnesota's primary and general elections in 2012, in which all legislative seats, all congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat are up for grabs in Minnesota. It is also a presidential election year, which likely means huge turnout, and two constitutional amendments will be on the general election ballot on Nov. 6.
The filing period runs through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5.
Peppin is a former legislative staffer who said she was inspired by the example of former Rep. Henry Kalis, a Democrat from Walters in southern Minnesota, who also camped out to be the first to file in person. She said she has now done so five times since she was first elected in 2004. Peppin chairs the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.
She said she does it "to show my constituents that I'm still excited to do the job, and I look forward to the campaign season." She set up her recliner in the hallway outside Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office at 2 p.m. Monday and alternated between that lonely outpost and her legislative office on the fifth floor.
"I got carded by Capital security," she said of her vigil, which included a sign she placed on her chair when she was away that read "Reserved for Joyce Peppin." She has hopes that her energy translates into success for her party in retaining control of the House in November. "I think we're in good shape," she said.
Parry and Nolan face stiff challenges in battling incumbents, and showed a spirit of bipartisanship when Parry loaned Nolan his reading specs so Nolan could decipher the filing form. Parry says he's already walked in three parades and is receiving a good reaction.
Nolan is expected to face a competitive primary on Aug. 14 with two fellow DFLers, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and former Duluth City Council president Jeff Anderson.
The candidates were jovial in this ceremonial opening day. One candidate who was not present, and never has been present, also was heard from.
The Secretary of State's office said they have received a mailed-in form from Jack Shepard, a fugitive felon living in Italy who always files and whose presence on the ballot has been upheld by the courts. He joins Franson and Klobuchar in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.