Former Minnesota First Lady Mary Pawlenty and a host of other Republicans could join two well-funded DFL challengers in a run for the Second Congressional District seat that U.S. Rep. John Kline is vacating.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that a source with knowledge of her interest said the one-time judge and wife of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty is considering entering the race.

David Gerson, a Tea Party favorite who has twice challenged Kline for the GOP nomination, wasted no time getting his already intended campaign rolling Friday, the day after Kline announced he will not seek re-election.

Gerson, an engineer by training, thanked Kline for his service before railing against the “Washington establishment and its tired and ineffective leadership.”

He said his first order of business would be to vote for someone other than John Boehner, R-Ohio, for Speaker of the House. Boehner is seen as too establishment by Tea Party activists, though his opponents have never mustered a serious challenge to him.

Gerson is a small-government Republican. He said he favors a plan to eliminate the deficit but did not specify how he would do so. He said he would raise the Social Security retirement age and begin reducing benefits for the well-off, also known as “means testing.”

Besides Gerson, potential Republican candidates include Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville; Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa; Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake; Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg, and Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake.

Kline’s retirement after 14 years in elective office also creates an opening for Democrats; President Obama won the district in 2012.

Mary Lawrence, a doctor, and Angie Craig, a St. Jude’s Medical executive, have already announced they are running. Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said he would make an announcement about his intentions this week. Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, is another potential candidate.

Kline’s time in elective office followed a distinguished career in the Marine Corps that began in 1969. When asked why he was stepping down, Kline, 67, told reporters Thursday, “It’s time.” He said, “Never say never,” when asked about a potential run for governor or U.S. Senate.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.