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Jensen announces bid for 1st District seat

OWATONNA — Former state Sen. Vicki Jensen announced Monday morning she is running for the 1st Congressional District seat, becoming the first Democrat to officially jump into the race.

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Senator Vicki Jensen
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OWATONNA — Former state Sen. Vicki Jensen announced today she is running for the 1st Congressional District seat, becoming the first Democrat to officially jump into the race.

Jensen, of Owatonna, said she wants to be a strong voice for rural communities to make sure they aren't being left behind.

"I believe that the people, especially in this district, want to send someone to Washington who tells it like it is. Someone who gives a seat at the table to everyone and works hard on their issues because they work hard," Jensen said.

Jensen is battling to replace 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz, who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election. Instead, he is running for governor in 2018. So far, Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn is the only other announced candidate for the seat. However, several other Republicans and Democrats are mulling bids.

The 1st Congressional District, which stretches across Minnesota's southern border from South Dakota to Wisconsin, is considered a swing district. In 2016, voters overwhelmingly favored Republican Donald Trump, while Walz narrowly held on to the seat, defeating Hagedorn. The open seat is rated a "tossup" by Roll Call.

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Jensen, 52, was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2012. She lost her re-election bid to Republican John Jasinski in 2016. Prior to her election to the Senate, Jensen served on the Owatonna School Board.

If elected, Jensen said she would focus on many of the issues she prioritized as a senator. That includes increasing educational opportunities in rural areas and boosting job training programs.

"We're going to be losing more jobs to automation. We have to figure out and make a plan and come together and decide how we're going to deal with that in rural areas because that has put us behind already," she said.

Jensen said she would like to see greater investment in broadband in rural areas, in addition to transportation. As a health insurance agent, she said she is well aware of the problems with the current health care law. She said she wants to see changes made to help boost health care affordability but doesn't support scrapping the Affordable Care Act altogether.

"It's time that we talk about the affordability of health care for everyone and not start over or try a new program at this point because people are suffering now, and we have to do something," she said.

Jensen said she also is very concerned about proposed cuts to agriculture in Trump's budget proposal.

"What's being proposed in the budget right now — our farm families cannot sustain those kinds of cuts," she said.

Other Democrats eyeing a run include 34-year-old Army veteran Dan Feehan. He served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration and is preparing to run for the seat, according to the Wall Street Journal . He reportedly is house hunting in Mankato.

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Republicans considering a bid for the seat include Republican Party of Olmsted County Chairman Aaron Miller, Rochester Rep. Nels Pierson and Rochester Sen. Carla Nelson.

In the coming days, Jensen said she plans to travel around the district and meet with voters.

She added, "I'm anxious to get out and talk to people and let them know what I stand for, why I work so hard and fight so hard for the issues I believe in, and why I want to be their congresswoman."

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Senator Vicki Jensen

Related Topics: TIM WALZ
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