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Howe enters race for Congress

Howe announces bid for Congress
John Howe told a group of Tea Party activists in Red Wing, Minn. on September 21, 2015, that he's running for Congress. Tom Scheck | MPR News

A former state legislator who also served as the mayor of Red Wing is running for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District.

John Howe told a group of tea party activists in Red Wing Monday night that he’s seeking the Republican endorsement.

“It will be a tough race,” Howe said. “I think it’s one that it’s imperative for our nation that we retain in Republican hands. I’m certainly going to work every day to win this seat and earn your support.”

Howe is the second Republican to announce he’s running for the open seat. He’s also the first to jump into the race since Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline announced last month that he’s not seeking another term.

David Gerson is also running and was in the race before Kline decided not to run again.

The race is attracting plenty of national attention because leaders in both parties believe they have a solid shot at winning in 2016.

Howe said he intends to spend a “a significant amount of my personal finances” to win the race.

He lost the Republican endorsement for Minnesota Secretary of State in 2012 to Dan Severson. He served one term in the Minnesota Senate from 2011 through 2013 but lost his re-election bid to Democrat Matt Schmit.

Howe said he’s going to run a campaign that focuses on pushing personal accountability in Congress. He also said the national debt is a chief concern.

“I think our debt of our country is holding us back on so many things whether it’s national security, whether it’s immigration, whether it’s what we can do in other parts of the world,” he said.

Howe cited “failed leadership” in Washington D.C. as a reason for running, but he wouldn’t say whether he would back Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, for another term as Speaker of the House.

Gerson has said he will not back Boehner if he's elected to Congress.

Gerson, who also attended the tea party event in Red Wing, characterized himself as a political outsider. Gerson has criticized Kline for being too moderate,  and said he’ll bring a more conservative voting record to Congress.

“We’ve had our hearts broken by people who have gone on to Washington D.C. to represent us. We have seen it time and time again,” Gerson said. “There’s something about us that we have to maintain this fight.”

Howe intends to make a more formal announcement of his campaign on Tuesday morning in St. Paul. Several other Republicans, including state Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, and former state Sen. Ted Daley are also thinking about getting into the race.

Two Democrats, Mary Lawrence and Angie Craig, are seeking the DFL nomination.

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