South St. Paul Republican David Gerson kicked off his second challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline on Monday.
Gerson, whose website describes the 46-year-old as a “pro-life, pro-business, limited-government conservative who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Republican platform,” will seek the 2nd District GOP’s endorsement in the race, though he won’t challenge Kline to a primary campaign, as he did last year.
Gerson told Minnesota Public Radio he opposes Kline’s vote to raise the federal debt limit, as well as support for bills that have led to government surveillance programs.
“He says that he’s for limited government and free markets and individual liberty but he doesn’t vote that way,” Gerson told MPR. “He’s voting for bigger government, debt increases and taking away our liberty.”
Kline has strong support with the GOP establishment in Minnesota and in D.C. and he took 85 percent of the vote in the primary last year. Gerson lent his campaign nearly $50,000 last cycle but hasn’t raised much money beyond that, just $2,165 last year and $5,100 this year.
Update: In a statement, Kline spokesman Troy Young noted Gerson had originally sought the Republican endorsement in Minnesota’s 5th District last year before challenging Kline, showing “complete contempt and disregard for the endorsement” in doing so.
“As a Marine and Minnesotan, Kline has built a lifelong reputation on character, integrity, and honesty while Mr. Gerson bases his campaign on falsehoods and half-truths,” Young said. “Why should Gerson be trusted?”
Gerson told the Star Tribune last year was more about sending a message to Kline than anything else; he’s actively talking to GOP activists and groups this time around, and he has the former Ron Paul presidential campaign coordinator as co-chair of his campaign.
“My 2012 campaign resonated with activists in the Second District,” Gerson said in a statement. “In 2012 I was considered just one of those Tea Party candidates out to primary electable Republicans. This time around, however, my campaign is being taken seriously, and frankly, we’re going about the campaign more professionally.”
Three Democrats have announced campaigns in the 2nd District, including Mike Obermueller, whom Kline defeated in the general election last year. Democrats view the district as a potential pick-up opportunity.
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com.