Larry Schumacher reports here.
Former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said Monday she's challenging Rep. Mark Olson, R-Big Lake, for the Republican Party endorsement for his House of Representatives seat.
"We've got to move into the issues. We've got to get out of the other stuff," Kiffmeyer, a Big Lake resident, told the Times. "The district needs to move forward now and we're not doing that."
Kiffmeyer was referring to Olson's conviction last summer on a domestic assault charge and his subsequent expulsion from the House Republican caucus by his peers.
Area Republicans meet Saturday for their district convention in Becker but are expected to endorse a candidate in early May.
That endorsement convention should be interesting.
Republicans Mark Lumley of Becker and Corrine Gintz of Elk River already have announced their candidacies for his seat, as have DFLers Steve Andrews of Big Lake and Bruno Gad of Clear Lake.
Olson, in his 16th year as a state representative, said he welcomed the competition, but held out the possibility he would run as an independent if not endorsed by the party.
"It's an option I would consider," he said. "I think the party is losing its way."
Olson denied that his recent legal troubles and loss of status within the House had diminished his ability to represent the district, which includes Clear Lake, Becker, Big Lake and Zimmerman.
He pointed to his votes against the Northstar commuter rail line and for tax cuts as examples of serving his district's interests.
Well he's got Andy Aplikowski's approval.
Kiffmeyer was elected Secretary of State in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 before losing to Mark Ritchie in 2006.
She said she wasn't worried the presence of Olson and another Republican on the ballot this fall could allow DFLers to win in what has historically been a Republican district.
Running for re-election every two years, Olson has never received less than 57 percent of the vote.
There is something in the water in that district.