Drazkowski not ruling out run against Walz
Mazeppa Republican lawmaker Steve Drazkowski is not ruling out a possible bid against First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz.
Drazkowski said several people have asked him to consider running against the three-term congressman.
"I haven't ruled it out, but I am not pursuing it at this point," he said.
Drazkowski is known as one of the most vocal conservatives in the Minnesota Legislature. He won election to the Legislature during a special election in 2007. During his tenure, he has called for deep cuts in government spending and fiercely opposed tax increases. He has also championed a number of bills on hot-button social issues. They include proposing an Arizona-style immigration law, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a bill making English the state's official language.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton said he believes Drazkowski would be a strong candidate.
"I think he has the ability to raise money, I think he has the ability to motivate activists and grassroots people and I think in this environment he is the kind of person people would be looking for," Sutton said.
Democrats, on the other hand, say Drazkowski's record in the Legislature shows he supports policies that hurt Minnesotans. Kristin Sosanie, spokeswoman for the Minnesota DFL, cited the Republican's opposition to raising taxes on the state's wealthiest residents while supporting delaying payments to K-12 schools.
"There's nothing in that record that would recommend him for higher office," she said. "I think Rep. Walz is doing a fantastic job. He is working on policies that help veterans, that help seniors, that help the middle class."
Walz won re-election last fall against former state Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield with less than 50 percent of the vote. Earlier this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee listed Walz's seat as one of its 12 best takeover opportunities. With President Obama's popularity at a record low, Sutton said Walz's support of many of the president's policies make him vulnerable.
Drazkowski is not the only Republican considering taking on Walz. Sutton said both Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca and Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont have been mentioned as possible candidates.
So what does the Walz campaign think about these potential candidates? At this point the campaign is choosing not to comment on any particular candidates. Instead, the Tim Walz for U.S. Congress campaign issued the following written statement: "Republicans will have a process to select their nominee. In the meantime, Tim Walz is working hard for southern Minnesotans. He's focusing on creating jobs, getting our economy back on track and advocating for our nation's veterans."
Uncertainty about how redistricting might change boundaries in the First District could keep potential Republican candidates on the sidelines — for now. Drazkowski said that under the Republican redistricting proposal, he would become part of the Second Congressional District, which is represented by Republican Congressman John Kline. Drazkowski said he expects possible challengers will wait until there is more certainty about how those political boundaries will be drawn before tossing their hats in the ring.
"I think that is going to be the case for anyone who is going to be asked to run or is considering to run for that congressional seat," he said.
Still, Sutton said he hopes potential Republican candidates won't sit on the sidelines for too long. He said candidates will need to take the leap without waiting for the courts to sort out redistricting.
"If anybody has an interest in doing it, they should certainly in the next 60 days start putting their toes in the water and building an organization," he said. "And if the (district boundary) lines shift they shift."