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Developer launches independent bid for U.S. Senate

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Jerry Trooien talked about his U.S. Senate candidacy as an independent during a state Capitol news conference. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

A real estate developer from Mendota Heights is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent.

Jerry Trooien is seeking the seat currently held by DFLer Tina Smith. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith to fill the vacancy created by Al Franken’s resignation. Smith is running, as is Republican Karin Housley.

During a state Capitol news conference Monday, Trooien said running as an independent was his only option.

“For me it would be impossible to run through one of the major parties now, simply because I couldn’t get boxed into a corner of dealing with the bases and all that stuff,” Trooien said.

Trooien first declared his intentions Sunday in a full-page ad that ran in Minnesota newspapers. He frequently referred to the ad, as well as a packet of news conference materials, for specifics about his campaign.

As an independent candidate, Trooien will need to collect 2,000 signatures on a petition to get his name on the ballot.

Trooien said he has been “knocked around” a few times in business, including a well-publicized bankruptcy. He declined to say how much of his own money he is planning to spend on the campaign.

“These guys who are rolling in here with $10, 12, 15 million, if I have to do that to go at it then I’m not very effective at giving the message,” he said. “So, it’s going to be a lot less than the other people are spending. At some point, people are either believing it or not believing it.”