Mark Thorson, a Bemidji businessman filed Tuesday for House 4A, forcing an Aug. 10 DFL primary with Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji.
While he must beat Persell, who carries the DFL endorsement, it's Republican candidate Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann and the mayor's support of the Bemidji Regional Event Center that spurred Thorson to run.
Thorson said in a statement he entered the race "in order to give Democrats an additional choice on Aug.10 so that they can select with confidence, not only the best representation available, but the best-equipped candidate to deal with this billowing plume of rhetoric currently spewing from the right."
Thorson says he wants to shine a light on "the inconsistencies and hypocrisies displayed by the Republican Party and their candidate."
The "New Republicans" claim to be fiscally conservative by cutting spending and holding the line on taxes, Thorson said.
"Well, what is fiscally conservative about the Bemidji Regional Event Center -- a massive spending epidemic championed by the Republican 4A candidate?" Thorson asked. "How is the event center an example of cutting spending? How will it help us to hold the line on taxes?"
Thorson says he's not against the BREC's anchor tenant, Bemidji State University's Division I hockey program. "It's that there is a right way to do a project like this, a wrong way, and a disastrous way -- and the mayor of Bemidji, the Republican 4A candidate, is in the third category."
He called the event center a prime example of the "attitude that has contributed to our current mess -- that mentality that there is no end to the money," Thorson said.
"Minnesota needs representation that has some background in fiscal responsibility, representation that carries a track record of financial accountability -- which is an element lacking, not only with the 4A Republican candidate, but in St. Paul in general," he said. "What I bring to this race is a little bit of business acumen and a good dose of common sense."
Thorson, saying his politics is liberal, noted that he has employed a lot of people, pulled troubled companies from difficulty and helped bring a state association from red ink to the black.
"I believe in public transportation, public education and public-supported health care," he said. "I believe in our government's long-term obligations to our native peoples."
Thorson is president and owner of Mark Sand & Gravel Co. since 1997, a highway paving contractor employing about 100 people. He is a past board member and president of the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association.
Thorson is a Bemidji High School and Concordia College graduate, a graduate screenwriting fellow of the American Film Institute of Los Angeles and graduate of the Owner President Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Other filings remain unchanged Tuesday, the final day to file for elected office for the fall election.
Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, filing Friday for a second term to her Senate 4 post, is joined by John Carlson of Bemidji, the Republican-endorsed candidate.
Senate 2 has Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, facing Republican-endorsed Dennis Moser of Clearbrook. Senate 3 has Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, facing GOP-endorsed Dan McGuire of Baudette.
In House races, House 2B has Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, facing GOP-endorsed David Hancock of Bemidji.
House 3A has Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, facing Republican Marv Ott of Grand Rapids. House 3B has Rep. Loren Solberg of Grand Rapids, facing Republican Carolyn McElfatrick of Deer River.
House 4B has Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, facing DFL-endorsed Meg Bye of Pequot Lakes.
The U.S. House 7th District race added two candidates on Tuesday, Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-Detroit Lakes, is the DFL-endorsed candiadate. Republican-endorsed Lee Byberg of Willmar now faces an opponent in the Aug. 10 primary in frequent candidate Alan Roebke of Alexandria,
Also joining the race is Glen Menze of Starbuck, whom Peterson has defeated twice before as a Republican, and failed to win the Republican endorsement this year. Now he's running as the Independence Party candidate.
The U.S. House 8th District race has Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-Chisholm, challenged by GOP-endorsed Chip Cravaack of Lindstrom, DFLer W.D. "Bill" Hamm of Bovey and Independence Party candidate Timothy Olson of Buhl.
An Aug. 10 DFL primary will feature Oberstar and Hamm.
All incumbent 9th Judicial District judges have filed for re-election and are unopposed with the exception two local judgeships.
Clearwater County District Judge Paul Rasmussen is challenged by former Beltrami County District Judge Terrance Holter. Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof is opposed by Darrell Carter, a Bemidji attorney who filed Tuesday. He is a former Republican state Senate candidate.