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Waldorf to run as independent in bid for 7th District House seat

Gene Waldorf

Gene Waldorf, with 16 years experience as a DFL state legislator, is challenging U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, whose held that office for 20 years.

Waldorf, however, will run as an independent, placing his name on the Nov. 2 ballot provided he secures 1,000 signatures from 7th District voters on a petition during the filing period, May 18 to June 1.

Waldorf, 74, served as a Democratic House member from 1976-80, representing a St. Paul district. He served in the Minnesota Senate from 1980-92. He since retired to Grey Eagle, near Sauk Centre.

"Recently, it has become obvious that the focus of our federal government has been on maintaining partisan political power," he said in a statement announcing his candidacy over the weekend. "I believe our two-party system now puts party power ahead of doing what is good for the country. We need a strong independent movement to force political parties to recognize their primary role as servants of the people."

Waldorf joins four Republicans who seek to oust Peterson, now the chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. So far, only Peterson is registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Republicans in the race include Glen Menze, a Starbuck farmer who ran against Peterson in 2000 and 2008; Lee Byberg, a Willmar businessman, Karen Nelson of Spicer and Melva Larson of Bagley, who is a former Beltrami County commissioner.

Waldorf says he's concerned about the lack of integrity of the federal government and Congress. "Recent actions of the Obama administration and Congress during the health care reform deliberations raise serious questions about the honesty of our elected representatives," he said.

Government has grown far beyond what is required for a strong defense and robust free-market economy, Waldorf says. He hopes to help set a standard for congressional service based only on what is good for the people, not on party influence or chances for re-election.

"During the past year, the current administration, with the support of Congress, has spent our economic resources carelessly and beyond what is sustainable," he said. "Unless something changes to reduce spending, our enormous public debt will soon rob us of our standard of living by forcing us to pay a large part of our gross domestic product to foreign countries as debt service," Waldorf said.

Waldorf and his wife, Bernie, have six adult children. While in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, Higher Education Finance Committee and of the Legislative Commission on Employee Relations, Mississippi River Parkway Commission and the Legislative Commission to Review Administrative Rules.

He formerly was an engineering specialist, designing automated manufacturing equipment for 3M Co.