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Byberg believes his second campaign could send him to Congress

WILLMAR -- The health of the U.S. free enterprise system is a number one priority of Lee Byberg in his second run for the U.S. House.

Republican Byberg lost to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., in the 2010 election and announced in 2011 that he would be running again.

It's a different type of campaign this time, he said in a recent interview.

Byberg, of Willmar, said he was organized earlier and better for this campaign in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, and he hopes to be able to afford more advertising than he could in his first campaign in the large district.

The district covers 38 counties that spread across the western third of Minnesota. Byberg is doing most of his campaigning by driving.

So far, he said, he's covered about 50,000 miles. He chuckled as he revealed that number. "It's unreal, but it's great," he said, because it gives him a chance to stop at small town restaurants or other businesses to talk to people.

Not everyone he meets agrees with him on issues but they still have pleasant conversations, he said. He added he believes voters are seeking "someone they can respect."

Byberg said he believes that the U.S. government has become too big in recent decades, and it has overshadowed the free enterprise system he favors.

Business leaders may not be happy with what government is doing, but they don't usually step in to try to work within the government, he said.

Byberg, vice president of operations for Life Science Innovations in Willmar, said he hopes to change that and be a business leader working to change things in Washington.

He lists three things he wants to do to help balance the federal budget -- cut government agency budgets, eliminate waste in government spending and "grow the economy."

Increasing tax rates on high-income individuals will not raise enough to help fix budget problems, Byberg said, and he doesn't consider it an option. He believes companies could use natural resources and invest available capital to expand the economy.

If the economy grows, people will earn more, get better jobs, and the government will receive more tax income in that way, he said.

Byberg would also lessen federal control over the states, "to allow states to make decisions that are right for their people."

Byberg said he disagrees with Peterson's opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. Peterson opposed initial passage but has since voted against repealing the law. Under the Affordable Care Act, "we don't have a free enterprise system," Byberg said.

The Byberg campaign has used an unusual method this year to bring his campaign to the voters. Choirs of volunteers have presented three public concerts of patriotic music around the district. The most recent one, in Alexandria, included a guest appearance by country singer Lee Greenwood.

Byberg also wrote a book about his life and views, which has been distributed during the campaign.

Byberg said he's received a positive reaction wherever he's gone in the district this year. "Based on the reaction, I think we have a good opportunity for a significant surprise this November," he said.


Lee Byberg

Age: 50

Family: Married, three sons

Career: Vice president of operations for Life Science Innovations on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar

Civic experience: Sons of Norway; Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340