WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar has at least one more Republican challenger in her 2012 re-election bid.
Joe Arwood will announce his candidacy in St. Bonifacius’s Missile Park tonight. Arwood, 38, is a first-term member of the St. Bonifacius City Council with no prior political experience — not exactly the marquee name Republicans have sought in the race to unseat one of the most popular senators in Washington.
But Arwood said he relishes his underdog status.
“I’m a principled candidate, not a party insider,” he said in an interview with MinnPost. “That right there is going to resonate with people.”
Arwood joins former state Rep. Dan Severson has the only declared Republicans seeking to challenge Klobuchar. Higher-profile politicians like Tim Pawlenty and state Sen. Dave Thompson have said they won’t run.
Arwood is approaching the race with a set of traditional Republican political positions, such as reforming the tax code, shrinking the size of the federal government and giving more powers back to the states. Arwood said he’s not a member of the tea party movement, but he would have voted against July’s debt ceiling bill because it didn’t contain a balanced budget amendment and didn’t sufficiently cut federal spending in real terms.
Despite his limited experience in government (his city council post is the first office he’s held. He and one other candidate ran for two at-large seats in 2010), Arwood said he’s been interested in politics his entire career, which includes 19 years in the auto industry and a job with the St. Bonifacius fire department.
“I thought it was about time a Common Joe got involved in the system,” he said.
As for running against Klobuchar, an opponent who is both popular (her approval rating was at a sky-high 61 percent in June) and poised (she has more than $3 million on hand), Arwood said if he’s the Republican’s nominee, he’ll make the race about the issues instead of the candidates.
“We’re going to be focused on the broken system in Washington and not one senator in particular,” he said.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.