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Carla Nelson decides against challenging Walz

Sen. Carla Nelson has decided not to challenge DFL 1st District Rep. Tim Walz next fall.

In an interview, the Rochester Republican said she decided Monday she wanted to continue serving residents in the Minnesota Senate.

"At the end of the day, I just realized that my heart and soul and passion is serving folks right here in Minnesota, as compared to Washington, D.C.," she said.

Nelson had been aggressively courted by Republicans at the national and state level to run for the seat. She said she became convinced it is a winnable seat for a Republican, which required her to do some soul searching whether she wanted to run for it.

"I just really feel I can be very effective, more effective, here in Minnesota, being one of 67 senators rather than being one out of 435 congressmen," she said.


So far, three Republicans have announced bids against Walz. They are Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson, Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn and Byron Army veteran Aaron Miller. Walz, a high school teacher from Mankato, was elected in 2006 after a surprise victory over Rochester Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht.

Nelson said an overflow meeting Monday night in Pleasant Grove about a controversial plan to possibly expand Root River Park confirmed for her that her real passion is working with residents on local issues. While she didn't rule out the possibility of a congressional run in the future, she said she is content serving Senate District 26.

"I think it's one of the most critical, most vital Senate districts in the state," she said. "I think the health of Minnesota depends greatly on what happens in this area of the state. We're the economic engine, the economic driver."

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