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Republican U.S. House hopefuls hold forum

Northern Minnesota Democrat U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar, serving a combined 56 years, have no fewer than eight Republicans who'd like to oust them.

And they will all be in Bemidji on Monday night for a forum of 7th and 8th Congressional districts GOP candidates, sponsored by the Beltrami County Republican Party.

The 6:30 p.m. event is slated for Bemidji State University's Beaux Arts Ballroom, followed by a reception.

Candidates will be asked prepared questions from moderators, and then take questions from the audience. Following that, a preference poll will be taken on who the 7th District and 8th District Republican conventions should endorse.

The 7th District Convention is April 9-10 at Moorhead and the 8th District Convention. The 8th District is April 10 at Cambridge.

Candidates include:

7th District

- Lee Byberg -- Vice president of operations for Life Science Innovations in Willmar, where he lives with his wife Nancy. He was born in Chicago to Norwegian missionaries and has lived in Paraguay and Norway.

- Melva Larson -- She recently returned to Bagley, after serving in Washington, D.C., for 10 years for the Smithsonian and as a political analyst for former Gov. Arne Carlson. She is a former Beltrami County commissioner and currently works at JC Penney in Bemidji.

- Glen Menze - Owner of GR Menze Services in Starbuck. He faced Peterson in 2000 and 2008 as the GOP endorsed candidate. He has prior experiences in trucking, sales training and management and business and accounting consulting.

- Karen Nelson -- A board certified physiatrist who has served on her local school board the past eight years. She grew up in western Minnesota.

8th District

E Chip Cravaack -- Recently retired Northwest Airlines pilot. Prior to that, he served as a pilot for the U.S. Navy, where he received numerous awards and medals. He is currently a PTO president and lives with his wife Tracy in Lindstrom.

- Justin Eichorn -- Small business owner and manager for 10 years in Grand Rapids. He and his wife have one son. He has been active in Republican politics for some time, volunteering for both the Bush and McCain presidential campaigns.

- Rob Farnsworth -- Lives with his wife Jamie and young daughter in Hibbing, where he works as a special education teacher. He has a bachelor's degree in history and social studies and has taught high school civics, worked as a teacher at a juvenile correctional facility and as a union member.

- Darrel Trulson -- Businessman and owner of PenLine Productions and lives in Chisago City. He formerly was an elected trustee for the city of Arlington Heights, Ill., and has worked in Christian education and as a pastor. He has written more than a dozen books.

Monday's event, hosted by the BSU College Republicans, is free and open to the public, with voluntary donations asked.