DULUTH — State Rep. Jennifer Schultz launched a campaign Monday against U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber to represent the vast Eighth Congressional District in northern Minnesota.

Schultz, a Democrat and University of Minnesota Duluth economics professor who was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2014, announced earlier this month she wouldn't seek to retain her 7A seat. She said during a Monday morning news conference in Duluth's City Hall that she only decided to enter the race late last week, after hearing from farmers and labor groups across the district who "begged" her to run.

"I'm running to advance the Minnesota values that we all share," she said. "Hard work, decency and fairness. I'm running to address the issues we all care about: affordable health care, good jobs, the best education for everyone. … And to slow the impact of climate change in Minnesota."

Schultz pointed to her record bringing "in millions" for projects in the Eighth District, citing Duluth's growing medical district and St. Louis River restoration efforts. In St. Paul, Schultz has championed access to affordable health care, reducing the cost of prescription drugs and banning noncompete clauses for many workers. She's also part of the Great Lakes Commission, advocating for protection of the lakes.

"Pete Stauber has voted no to jobs, families, workers, women and kids," she said. "And ultimately, Stauber has done nothing for miners or mining, except to pay lip service. … I believe with hard work we can have both mining and environmental protections. I know how to do it and I have ideas on how to do it."

"The people of the Eighth deserve better representation," Schultz said.

Minnesota's Eighth District expanded westward under recent redistricting and also added part of Washington County in its southernmost corner, near the Twin Cities metro.

Stauber, a Republican, is seeking a third term. A former Duluth police officer, he was first elected in the 2018 midterms and replaced DFL Rep. Rick Nolan, who didn't run for another term. In that race, Stauber won by more than 5 percentage points over his Democratic opponent Joe Radinovich. In 2020, Stauber won a roughly 19-point victory over DFL challenger Quinn Nystrom.

"Rep. Schultz is a card-carrying member of the Twin City liberals" ... "who led the charge to cut $68 million from nursing homes, supported a 20-cent per gallon gas tax increase, opposes mining and is championing a government takeover of health care," said Johnny Eloranta, with Stauber's campaign. "Pete looks forward to highlighting the stark differences between Schultz's failed socialist policies and his strong record of fighting for our way of life."

Nolan, speaking at Schultz's Duluth campaign stop, cited Stauber's vote against the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package as indication of how Stauber feels about his district, he said.

He's voted against "just about everything you can imagine that's important to the people of this Eighth District," Nolan said. "The good news is we've got someone better who's proven she knows how to legislate. She knows how to bring people together … and she knows how to reach across the aisle."

Ernst Joseph Oppegaard-Peltier III of Bemidji also has entered the Eighth District race.