Former state legislator Regina Barr has joined a growing field of Republicans who want to challenge freshman DFL Rep. Angie Craig in a suburban swing district this fall.
Barr, a small-business owner who lives in Inver Grove Heights, announced her campaign for the Second Congressional District on Wednesday after a recruitment push from people inside and outside of the state, she said.
The district covers the southeastern suburbs and rural communities to the south and narrowly supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, making it a top target for Republicans in 2020.
Barr is the fifth Republican to enter the race. The others are former Michigan state legislator Rick Olson; former U.S. Marine Corps officer Tyler Kistner; Erika Cashin, an Air Force veteran and Comcast executive; and self-employed businessman Kerry Zeiler.
Barr was first elected in 2016 to represent a state House district in the southeastern suburbs, but she was swept out two years later in a Democratic wave that knocked off several GOP incumbents in suburban seats.
Barr said she took over a swing seat that was long held by a Democrat, and she’s the only Republican in the race who’s won elected office in the district. She said she plans to seek and abide by the party’s endorsement.
“I’m the only one who has won one of the bluest House districts in this district,” she said. “I’m the only one who has run on a Minnesota ballot and won.”
Barr grew up in New York with her single mother and three siblings. She moved to Minnesota and started a consulting business in the district, where she has lived for the past 20 years. She criticized Craig, saying she often votes with other Democrats in Congress after campaigning as a moderate.
“Like most people, I see what is happening in Washington,” she said. “I think Congress is broken, and I see the lack of action on getting things done for the people in this district.”
Craig, a former human resources executive at St. Jude Medical, won the seat in 2018, beating incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Lewis by more than 5 percentage points. She had narrowly lost the seat in 2016. Lewis is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Tina Smith this fall.