A Twin Cities suburban high school football coach is picking up a political playbook and announcing his candidacy for Congress.
Jeff Erdmann, the head coach at Rosemount High School and civics teacher at the school, said he is seeking the DFL endorsement in 2018 for the Second Congressional District, where first-term Republican Jason Lewis now serves.
“I never thought I would be running for Congress,” Erdmann said in a news release issued Wednesday. “After seeing the behavior of our politicians, especially Jason Lewis, I realized that if working Americans want proper representation, then working Americans like myself need to run for office.”
The 49-year-old Erdmann added that his 27 years of teaching American government has shown him that “whether we’re Democrat or Republican, there is more that unites us than divides us,” said Erdmann.
He added that this seat is in a swing district, given that Barack Obama carried it in 2012 in his re-election as president, but then it narrowly went for Donald Trump in 2016.
Lewis, a onetime conservative radio talk show host, won the open seat in 2016 by less than 2 percentage points over DFLer Angie Craig. Craig previously told the Star Tribune she is likely to mount another bid for the seat in 2018.
Erdmann grew up in Lewiston in southeastern Minnesota, and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College. He is married, lives in Eagan and has three children.
On the football field, Erdmann’s teams have been among the state’s best in his 11 years coaching the Irish, making the state tournament seven times. In 2010, the Vikings named him coach of the year.
Lewis pulled off a dramatic win for an open seat held by long-term U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican who decided not to seek another term.
Craig’s campaign had attracted money and attention from the national Democratic Party, which had targeted the swing district as a prime spot to flip a seat long held by a Republican.
In Congress, Lewis has embraced many of the proposals of President Donald Trump and GOP leaders, including a health care overhaul and Trump’s new budget plan that calls for significant tax cuts and spending reductions.
Lewis on Wednesday praised the president’s budget blueprint, saying “the Administration, for the first time in years, has sent us a budget that balances — and that’s a necessity.”
In an early sign of the intensity of the upcoming campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in March unveiled digital ads targeting House Republicans, including Lewis, for voting in committee for the GOP health care overhaul.