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2 DFLers will challenge moderate Senate Republicans

Jake Grovum//January 10, 2012//

2 DFLers will challenge moderate Senate Republicans

Jake Grovum//January 10, 2012//

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Two DFLers have filed to challenge a moderate Senate Republicans in a pair of southern Minnesota’s known swing districts, Red Wing’s Senate District 28 and Winona’s Senate District 31.

DFLer Matt Schmit will look to knock off Republican Sen. John Howe — the former Red Wing mayor who won with a comfortable 3,000-vote margin in 2010 — in Red Wing’s Senate District 28. That seat was held for nearly two decades by moderate Democrat Steve Murphy until he retired ahead of the 2010 election.

Meanwhile, Winona real estate agent Jack Krage will look to challenge first-term Sen. Jeremy Miller in Senate District 28. Krage, who has worked for Coldwell Banker for more than 25 years, announced his run earlier last month, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, but his filing became official just last week, according to Campaign Finance Board records.

In 2010, Miller unseated two-term DFLer Sharon Erickson Ropes by about 400 votes out of 27,000 cast. Since taking office, Miller has drawn fire from constituents and labor forces for some of his votes cast backing GOP cuts to education and local government aid — particularly since he represents a district with a heavy focus on higher education. At the same time, Miller, one of the youngest lawmakers in 2010 freshman class, has made a name for himself around the Capitol and joined Gov. Mark Dayton on a trade mission to South Korea last fall.

Howe, for his part, emerged as a moderate among his more conservative colleagues throughout 2011’s budget stalemate and subsequent government shutdown. He was open about conversations he’d shared with Dayton on budget issues and was among the first Senate Republicans to back an overhaul of the tax code even if it meant raising more revenue.

Early in the 2011 session, when asked if such a move would qualify as a tax hike to staunchly anti-tax Republican activists, Howe simply smiled and pointed out that he had not signed the “No New Taxes” pledge when running for office.

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