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Ingebrigtsen weighs run for governor

Bill Ingebrigtsen followed the debate at a recent Senate hearing. (File photo, Forum News Service)

Governor Bill Ingebrigtsen?

State Senator Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, is contemplating the idea.

His name has been popping up in political circles as a possible contender for challenging DFL Governor Mark Dayton in 2014.

When contacted by the Echo Press Tuesday, Ingebrigtsen said he'll make a decision in the next four to six weeks whether to jump into the race. He plans to form a committee to explore the possibility.

"I think Minnesota needs a rural choice," he said. "I believe my seven years in the Senate, including the two years when the Republicans were in control, makes me well-suited for the office of governor."

Ingebrigtsen, a former Douglas County sheriff, said he's received a positive reaction from politically connected people he's talked to about a possible campaign.

He said he's "disgusted" by Dayton's "tax the rich" policy, which Ingebrigtsen said will impact more than those with high incomes.

"Everybody will be paying higher taxes," he said. "You won't get that with a new sheriff in town. When I say I'm going to do something, I will do it."

Ingebrigtsen said he's not a millionaire like Dayton and some other politicians. He said he's more approachable, someone people can walk across the street and talk to.

"What you hear from me is what you get," he said. "I'd bring commonsense and rural leadership. Minnesotans are ready for that."

Ingebrigtsen said that when Republicans controlled the Legislature, their strategy of cutting spending without raising taxes proved to be effective. "Tightening the belt doesn't hurt," he said.

Ingebrigtsen said he has the ability to work with DFLers and has bucked leadership within his own party if he's convinced it's not the right approach.

Ingebrigtsen said he'll continue to fight against business restrictions, energy mandates and gun control measures such as universal background checks.

At this point, Ingebrigtsen acknowledges he doesn't have statewide name recognition and he would join a crowded field of candidates.

Republicans who have announced for governor so far are Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a former state representative and Detroit Lakes native; former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a Maple Grove resident who grew up in North Dakota; Scott Honour, a Twin Cities businessman who is the richest in the GOP race so far; and Senator Dave Thompson, a Lakeville resident and former talk radio show host.

Two other Republican senators are thinking about running: Julie Rosen of Fairmont and Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen. Senate Minority Leader David Hann of Eden Prairie had thought about running, but decided against it.

If he pursues the higher office, Ingebrigtsen said he's not sure if he will abide by the party's endorsement. He said the process hasn't worked very well in the past.

A side note: A Republican from Alexandria has held the governor's office before. Knute Nelson was elected governor in 1892 before serving in the U.S. Senate from 1895 to 1923.

Forum News Service Reporter Don Davis contributed to this story.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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