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Minnesota Politicians Wait for Kline, Peterson Exits to Ascend

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Most observers think Kline, above, and Peterson will be members of the Minnesota delegation for a while, halting possible replacements in their tracks.

Should Kline, 66, ever retire from the 2nd District, a competitive and crowded race would ensue. After six terms, Kline is the longest-serving GOP member in the Minnesota delegation.

Republicans mentioned former state Rep. Kurt Bills, who lost by a large margin to Klobuchar in 2012, as a potential candidate. They also mentioned Dakota County Commissioner Chris Gerlach, state Reps. Pat Garofalo and Kelby Woodard, and Brad Rixmann, the founder and CEO of Pawn America and a major donor to Kline’s campaign.

Democrats argue that Kline is vulnerable this cycle. They say they plan to spend resources in his district to help one of their recruits, former state Rep. Mike Obermueller. The Democrat lost to Kline in 2012 by a 10-point margin.

If Obermueller fails this cycle, Democratic consultants say they will have candidates who will want to challenge Kline in future cycles. Those potential candidates include state Rep. Joe Atkins, Eagan Mayor Mike MaGuire, Lakeville Mayor Mike Little and freshman state Rep. Laurie Halverson.

Statewide opportunities are even more rare than competitive House races in upcoming cycles. Several Republicans have entered the race to challenge Franken, but most local operatives don’t believe any of them can beat him.

Klobuchar will not stand for re-election again until 2018. But she has been mentioned for numerous high-level positions, including attorney general, a Supreme Court slot and national office.

Operatives in the state say if Klobuchar leaves her Senate seat, there are several contenders ready to run for it: GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, Minnesota’s first female Attorney General Lorie Swanson, a Democrat, and outgoing Democratic Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Farm Team is a weekly state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

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