Telling a crowd of about 80 supporters he can no longer "stand by and see this great country be destroyed," St. Louis County Commissioner and Duluth Police Lt. Pete Stauber announced he will seek the Republican endorsement in the race to represent Minnesota's 8th Congressional district next year.
Stauber is well known in the Duluth region. He's a former high school hockey star who went on to a brief professional career. He's also a small business owner and former Hermantown city councilor.
"My intentions are not to move the country to the left or to the right but to move us all forward," he said.
Stauber, 51, describes himself as a Christian who comes from a military family — his wife Jodi is an Iraq war veteran.
A 22-year veteran of the Duluth Police Department, he was shot in the head while off-duty in 1995. But he told the crowd he's still a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
He also said he'd work to eliminate burdensome federal regulations that he said can place an excessive burden on small business owners.
Stauber also expressed support for issues more typically associated with Democratic candidates. He said he'd fight for social security, Medicare, and for resources for people with special needs. Stauber has a son with Down Syndrome.
He also said he supports investments in roads, bridges, and high speed internet in rural Minnesota, and said he "will not tiptoe around the fact that I support responsible taconite and precious metals mining in northeast Minnesota."
Incumbent 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan, a DFLer from Crosby, Minn., also is an ardent supporter of proposed copper-nickel mining in the region, provided the proposals pass regulatory muster.
Nolan has narrowly defeated GOP challenger Stewart Mills in each of the past two elections, despite the district last year voting heavily in favor of President Trump. Mills has said he has not ruled out a third campaign.
The 8th District, which encompasses a huge swath of eastern Minnesota, running from north of the Twin Cities all the way to the Canadian border, has become one of the most competitive districts in the country. Recent campaigns have also been among the most expensive nationally.
"Before I ask for your vote, I want to earn it," Stauber said. "I want to earn your respect and trust as I meet you on the campaign trail."