Walz, Quist eye Steele County - Owatonna MN: News

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Walz, Quist eye Steele County

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Posted: Monday, September 3, 2012 5:15 pm | Updated: 7:10 pm, Mon Sep 3, 2012.

By DEREK SULLIVAN

dsullivan@owatonna.com

OWATONNA — Both First District Congressman Tim Walz and his challenger Allen Quist see Steele County as an important area in this year’s election.

In 2006, when Mankato West teacher Walz, a Democrat, was trying to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Gil Gutknecht, he won the election despite losing Steele County by 1,100 votes. In 2008, he garnered 5,000 more Steele County votes than Brian Davis, a Rochester Republican, and two years ago, he finished with 800 more votes than Randy Demmer, the Republican challenger from Hayfield.

Quist, who lives in Nicollet County and worked in Blue Earth County, knows it’s important to be the first Republican to win Steele County since 2006.

“It is very important that I carry Steele County,” he said. “I will run the strongest in rural and small business types of communities. In politics, you always run on your strengths. Steele County fits my strengths well. We are going to do whatever we can to carry Steele County.”

Quist has been a farmer in Nicollet County and a teacher at Bethany Lutheran in Mankato. As he has traveled across Steele County, he noticed its resemblance to Nicollet and Blue Earth.

“We are so similar to Steele County. We’re agricultural, small business, higher education. We are the same in terms of demographics and economics,” Quist said. “If I’m elected, it will be my job to represent everyone in the district. For Steele County, that will be easy because we are just totally on the same page with same interests.”

Walz said a key reason he has been able to carry Steele County in the past two elections is that local residents have noticed that he puts policy ahead of politics. He said he worked with Owatonna mayor Tom Kuntz, who ran as a Republican for state House in 2008, on Highway 14 issues.

“Steele County, and Owatonna as its hub, is critically important,” he said, “and I don’t just say that from a political standpoint. These are communities that, for generations, are smart and well-invested. These are quality places where you want to raise your kids.”

District-wide, Owatonna is the fourth-largest city with a population of about 26,000 people. Walz also said its centralized location and its growing airport make it an important place for southern Minnesota businesses.

“Many people do not realize how many people fly into Owatonna for business,” Walz said.

Both candidates said they plan to stump throughout the First District over the next two months. They will talk with medical professionals in Rochester and rural conservatives in Steele County.

“The First District is the quintessential swing district, with just as many people calling themselves independents as Democrats or Republicans,” Walz said. “To be a good representative, I can’t just figure out how to get 50 percent plus one. I have received support from what many call ‘rural conservative areas’ because many people see that I share many of their same values.

Quist also believes that he will do well with rural conservatives. He said he fits this district very well, and his values were a major reason he defeated current state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca in the Minnesota primary. It was Quist’s first election victory since 1986.

“Obviously, it was very satisfying to win, but as the votes were coming in and it became more and more clear that I was going to win, at the same time, the responsibility of being the Republican nominee from southern Minnesota to Congress sank in. It was joyful acceptance of a very important responsibility.”

Reach reporter Derek Sullivan at 444-2372, or follow him on Twitter @OPPSullivan

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1 comment:

  • pwellstone posted at 9:16 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    pwellstone Posts: 20

    Mr Quist is on record as saying that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. That extreme view of Christianity doesn't seem to be very prevalent in Steele County.

     

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