ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Colin Minehart, a businessman and native of Albert Lea has announced he will be running for Tim Walz’s seat in the first congressional district. Walz, who has been in congress since 2007 is leaving to run for governor.
Minehart is the fourth person to formally announce his candidacy for the open congressional seat, so far. Former DFL State Senator Vicki Jensen of Owatonna announced her bid for Walz’s seat in early June. Joining Minehart and Jensen in the race is republican Jim Hagedorn who has run for congress in CD1 in both 2016 and 2014. Hagedorn narrowly lost to Walz in 2016 by a margin of 50.34% to 49.58%. Johnny Azkam, an independent of Rochester, is also running.
The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports Minehart is an electronic pull-tabs salesman and former small business owner who recently said that he has always wanted to run for congress. He believes that his background as a small business owner and an advocate for retailers makes him a strong candidate for the position.
According to KEYC-TV, Minehart said he has reached a point in his life where he wants to help others, just as many have helped him in his life.
Minehart’s official biography states he was raised in Albert Lea and graduated from the University of Minnesota. Along with his wife, Minehart ran three separate businesses over the past 30 years. Minehart sold his last business, the Main Street Grill in Alden, Minnesota, in 2014. He served as president and chairman of the board for the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and was active with the American Beverage Licensees based in Washington, D.C. Currently, Minehart is a sales consultant for an electronic pull-tab company, Compliant Gaming. He previously ran for the Minnesota House three times, once in the 1970s and twice in the 1980s, all unsuccessfully.
Minehart said if he is elected to congress, he would make job creation a priority in his district and would look at ways to increase vocational training to help employers find skilled employees. He told the Post-Bulletin that he is not a “tax and spend Democrat” but is a business person who supports building critical infrastructure. His other goals include making healthcare more accessible and affordable. He called the Republican-backed American Health Care Act (AHCA) a “step backwards” and says he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions and enable the Mayo Clinic to continue to thrive.
“I have this knowledge. I have this experience. I’m from southern Minnesota, and I am tired of outsiders wanting to tell us how we should live or what we should do,” Minehart told the Post-Bulletin.
The race for the CD1 congressional seat is expected to be a crowded field. The Post-Bulletin reports possible other candidates on the DFL side include teacher/former state house candidate John Austinson of Byron, former assistant secretary of defense Dan Feehan of Mankato and strategic relations manager for the Center of Energy and Environment, Joe Sullivan.
Other potential Republican candidates considering a run include state Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester, Olmsted County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Miller of Byron and State Reps. Nels Pierson of Rochester and Joe Schomacker of Luverne, according to the Post-Bulletin.