Bluestem is behind the curve on this story: although there's no active Republican Party challenger opposing Collin Peterson, Dawson native and current Montevideo resident Kevin Winge has been exploring a bid for Minnesota's sprawling Seventh Congressional District as an Independence Party candidate.
Today's Hutchinson Leader reports in Independent considers run against Peterson:
Kevin “Bird” Winge is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for Rep. Collin Peterson’s seat in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District in 2016.
Winge is a former leader of nonprofit corporations that provide meals to seniors and the critically ill, and this would be his first campaign.
Winge said he has decided to explore a run for office because of the polarization of the political system.
“Too many politicians are more concerned about special interest groups and reelections than they are about the future of our country,” he said in a press release. “The vitriolic language, the use of social issues to divide us, and the inability to balance budgets has to stop. Civility and compromise must return to government. Our energies must be concentrated on creating the nation we need to be a generation from now.”
Winge has spent time touring the district this fall, and expects to make a decision by the end of the year. . . .
Winge grew up in a farm outside Dawson and is a Montevideo resident. He has a bachelors in political science from the University of Minnesota and has a masters degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.
In 2011, our executive director Kevin Winge resigned from his post to head up a similar organization in San Francisco, California. While we were happy for him, we were also sad to say goodbye to a dynamic leader and friend. For 12 years, Kevin inspired, challenged, encouraged and, yes, hugged us. To know Kevin was to be inspired by Open Arms — and to get involved. When he joined us, Open Arms cooked and delivered meals for 100 people living with HIV/AIDS on a $300,000 budget. Today, our budget exceeds $3 million: We have our own garden, an international program, and each week we serve 750 people living with HIV/AIDS, MS, ALS, cancer and 60 other diseases here in Minnesota.
That's an impressive accomplishment, and it illustrates Winge's optimistic and civil nature. Another good source for understanding the potential candidate is his archived "Your Voices" blog at the Star Tribune, which closes with his late August 2013 marriage by then-Mayor R.T. Rybak (photo above). Winge is a sane, moderate and generous voice.
In early October, the West Central Tribune reported in Montevideo man explores a run for U.S. Congress:
David Holman of Morris, the Independence Party of Minnesota’s Chair of the Seventh Congressional District, supports Winge’s potential candidacy. “Kevin has what it takes to be a great Representative. He has a proven record of building coalitions, balancing budgets, and making bold decisions. He is passionate about ending the partisan bickering and improving economic and educational opportunities for all Americans.”
Can an Independence Party candidate make a dent in Peterson's popularity? Statewide IP candidates didn't fare well in the district in 2014. Adam Steele was on the congressional ballot in 2012 with Peterson and Republican Lee Byberg, garnering 4.67 percent of the vote.
Photo: Kevin Winge's (left) 2013 wedding, officiated by R.T. Rybak (center).
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