Former Michigan state representative Rick Olson has emerged as the first Republican to enter the 2020 race against freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, who defeated incumbent Republican Jason Lewis in the 2018 election.

Olson, of Prior Lake, launched his candidacy earlier this week in the Second Congressional District, a swing district that stretches from the south Twin Cities metro area to Northfield.

Olson retired in 2017 after most recently working as a business manager in Foley Public Schools, outside of St. Cloud, according to his campaign website. He describes a wide-ranging career, including work as an attorney, certified financial planner and agricultural economist.

He spent one term, from 2011-12, in the Michigan state House while living in Saline, a small city south of Ann Arbor.

"I'm running because the capitalist/free market system that has allowed my wife and I to come from nothing, yet go on to live the American Dream, is being put at risk in favor of a rising strain of Socialism. This is happening right here in Minnesota, and it's being pushed by Angie Craig's far-left crowd," Olson said on his website.

His website states that he wants to focus on health care costs, rising national debt, immigration, foreign trade and national defense.

Craig, a former human resources executive at St. Jude Medical, first ran for Congress in 2016, narrowly losing to Lewis. While other Minnesota Republicans have been suggested as potential challengers, Olson is the first to join the race.

Lewis, once thought to be headed for another rematch with Craig, has chosen instead to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Tina Smith.

Craig responded to Olson's entrance in the race with a statement saying people need to work together on challenges including lowering health care costs and investing in roads. "I look forward to asking voters for an opportunity to continue this work on behalf of my neighbors," she said.

Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044