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State Rep. Nels Pierson, former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger to run in 1st District

The 1st District special election is getting crowded now with a dozen declared candidates.

Nels Pierson mug
Nels Pierson.
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ROCHESTER — State Rep. Nels Pierson of Rochester said this morning that he will run in both the special election and the general election for Congress in the 1st district.

Pierson, a four-term GOP state representative, is the 14th person to announce a run for the congressional seat vacated by Jim Hagedorn when he died last month.

Pierson, who recently became president of AB Systems, a Rochester-based commercial construction company, emphasized his roots in the district. He grew up near Butterfield in the west, graduated from college in the center and is raising a family in the east.

"Solving problems are not easy, quick, or perfect, but I hope my constituents and neighbors in the First Congressional District know that I work to make government work for them and not against them," he said in a statement.

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Jeffrey Ettinger

Pierson was one of three people within the last two days to announce their candidacies for the 1st district special election.

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One was former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger, who filed to run as a Democrat. Ettinger was CEO of Hormel Foods from 2006 to 2016. The other was Matt Benda, an Albert Lea, Minn., agricultural law attorney who will run as a Republican.

If Pierson declared his run, and with the addition of Ettinger and Benda, it brings to 14 the number of 1st District special election candidates.

Pierson discussed his plans at a press conference this morning at Textile Care Services, 225 Wood Lake Drive, SE, Rochester.

The special election is being held Aug. 9 to elect a representative to serve out the remainder of the term of Jim Hagedorn, who died of cancer last month. The election will be held on the same day as the state primary, which will elect party nominees to run in the general election. The winner of that will serve a regular two-year term starting in January.

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“Our country faces significant challenges and people have lost trust in the leaders of both parties,” said Ettinger in a press statement. “I’ll bring a common-sense approach to Congress, and I don’t care whether an idea is Democratic idea or a Republican idea.”

Benda said he is running because of his opposition to the administration of President Joe Biden.

“Just a little over a year ago, Joe Biden and the Democrats assumed full control in Washington and what have they given us? $4 a gallon of gas, grocery prices through the roof, crime and destruction in our cities and big government mandates that closed our schools," Benda said. "We can and must do better.”

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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