Former Minnesota State Rep. Allen Quist launched his bid Thursday for the 1st Congressional District against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in southern Minnesota.
Quist said his campaign will focus on jobs, the economy and repealing the health care reform law passed by Congress in 2010.
"I believe I bring extraordinarily strong leadership to a congressional seat and it's the kind of leadership that is needed under the very, very serious circumstances that we face," he said.
The national debt is another key reason for his run, Quist said.
"Washington appears to be unable to effectively deal with the problem," he said.
Before he faces Walz, Quist will first have to battle state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca for the Republican party's endorsement.
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Quist lost the GOP endorsement in 2010 to Randy Demmer. He also made two unsuccessful runs for governor in 1994 and 1998. He won the GOP endorsement for governor in 1994 but lost in the primary to incumbent Gov. Arne Carlson. Quist also served in the Minnesota House from 1983 until he retired in 1989.
Walz is a former teacher from Mankato serving his third term. The state Democratic Party released a statement calling Quist an "extreme, Tea Party politician."
Quist launched his campaign with a tour of the 1st District, which runs across southern Minnesota from the Wisconsin to South Dakota borders.
New political boundaries for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District may change in 2012, but Quist said he's ready to move if his home in St. Peter ends up outside the 1st District after the redistricting process. He's already renting an apartment in Byron.
"We're going to be kind of like hound dogs; we're going to chase [Walz] wherever he goes," Quist said. "It'll be a matter of logistics, but that's it."
Currently, the district extends across the southern border from South Dakota to Wisconsin. It includes Rochester, Worthington, Mankato, Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna and Winona.
A court appointed panel will release the new political boundaries on Feb. 21 if Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature can't reach agreement before then.