GOP lawmaker to run as independent

Rep. Ron Erhardt
State Rep. Ron Erhardt of Edina says he is leaving the Republican Party and will run for re-election this fall as an independent.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

State Rep. Ron Erhardt of Edina says he has left the Republican Party and will run for a 10th term as an independent.

Erhardt fell into disfavor with the GOP earlier this year, when he and five other Republicans joined House Democrats to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of a transportation funding bill. Local Republican delegates endorsed another candidate this spring.

Erhardt says he thinks he still enjoys enough voter support to win re-election.

"I think there are still a lot of moderate Republicans around that like a reasonable approach to the world, and not just a dogmatic 'Vote what they tell you to vote and read the party platform and vote that way.' I think there are people who expect a reasoned approach to your votes," said Erhardt.

Erhardt said he was approached about running as a Democrat but decided to go the independent path. That will require him to round up 500 signatures before to file for office, which he must do by Tuesday.

The district is considered swing territory, going strongly for Democrat Amy Klobuchar in the Senate race and for Pawlenty in the governor's race two years ago.

Running as an independent, he will face Republican Keith Downey and DFLer Kevin Staunton in the general election. Erhardt says if he's re-elected he'll caucus with whichever party wins majority status.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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