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DFL 6th District candidate calls GOP's Emmer divisive

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Denney, Emmer, Perske
Sixth Congressional District candidates, from left to right, John Denney, Tom Emmer and Joe Perske take part in a debate Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in St. Cloud, Minn.
Dave Schwarz / St. Cloud Times via AP

A DFL congressional candidate attacked Republican hopeful Tom Emmer's record as a state lawmaker, calling him divisive and uncooperative during a debate Tuesday in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Joe Perske, who is the mayor of Sartell, said that Minnesota's 6th District has been ill-served by Bachmann, a tea party favorite who is not seeking re-election this year after winning four terms, and that Emmer's record in the Minnesota House, where he served six years, shows he would deliver more of the same.

"Tom has been very divisive, even with his own party," Perske said. "He has a record of being uncooperative."

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Emmer, who was the GOP candidate for governor in 2010 but lost to Democrat Mark Dayton, declined to respond to Perske's criticism, the St. Cloud Times reported. Emmer said he wants to go to Congress to secure money for local transportation projects, such as expanding Interstate 94 from Rogers to St. Cloud.

"I want to work for you. I want to be your representative in Congress," Emmer said.

Another candidate, law student John Denney, said his Independence Party affiliation would put him in better position to broker deals for the district.

"If you want your vote to matter, consider me, please," Denney said.

Denney emphasized his support for changing federal drug laws. He wants to move marijuana off the Schedule I list of controlled substances.

The debate was the first to feature all three candidates.

The 6th District includes the St. Cloud area and the northern and far western Twin Cities suburbs. Emmer has dominated the race financially, raising far more money than both his opponents combined.