No opponent means some down time for regional GOP House official
STARBUCK --- Paul Anderson is hoping to get his RV off the farm yard this summer.
Two years ago, when the Republican state representative from rural Starbuck was campaigning hard during his first attempt to win a seat in the Minnesota House, there was no time to go camping.
But Anderson has no opponent this year and expects to have some free time this summer.
"That was a pleasant surprise," Anderson said, referring to the 5 p.m. Tuesday election filing deadline that left him the sole candidate for District 13A, which includes all of Pope County, the western half of Stearns County and seven townships in northern Kandiyohi County.
He said he "didn't have any inkling one way or the other" if he would have an opponent or not and wasn't banking on having an uncontested race until after the filings closed.
There are four House incumbents, all Republicans, who are running this fall without an opponent. The Democrats "just couldn't get anyone to step forward," said Anderson.
He speculates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unallotment of the campaign finance program, which used state money to reimburse up to $50 for individuals and $100 for married couples who donated to political campaigns, may have made it more difficult to recruit new candidates this year.
Given the state's budget woes, Anderson said eliminating that campaign finance program was necessary. "I was not sad to see it go," he said.
Anderson said he feels "fortunate" to be running uncontested, but he'll still attend parades and do some door-knocking to keep in touch with constituents.
Other area legislators will be facing opponents this fall.
The District 13B race includes incumbent Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, and Bruce Vogel, R-Willmar.
District 18B includes incumbent Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and Darrin Anderson, DFL-Litchfield.
In the House District 20A race, incumbent Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, will face Jay Backer, R-Graceville.
The District 20B race includes incumbent Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, and Brian Kohout, R-Olivia.
In House District 11, incumbent Rep. Torrey Westrum, R-Elbow Lake, will face Bennett Smith, DFL-Donnelly, and Dave Holman, I- Morris.
The Senate race in District 18 includes three candidates vying for the seat that's being left vacant by the retirement of Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel. The candidates include Richard Hoff, I-Cosmos, Hal Kimball, DFL-Cokato, and Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson.
In Senate District 13, incumbent Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, is being challenged by Larry Rice, DFL-Willmar.
The Senate race in District 20 includes incumbent Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and Gregg Kalberg, R-Hector.
District 14 incumbent Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, is being challenged by Mike Sharp, DFL-Clearwater.