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War hero Kriesel won't run again

ST. PAUL -- A first-term Minnesota legislator who made a bigger splash than most says he is not running again.

Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, sent a letter to fellow lawmakers and staff this morning saying he wants to spent more time with his family because "giving my wife and sons the time they deserve has become increasingly difficult."

Kriesel entered the House last year already well known to many in the Twin Cities. He lost both legs in the Iraqi war and received lots of publicity for that and a resulting book before running for office.

Many suggested that he would be a good candidate for higher office, but he repeatedly said he was not interested.

Kriesel's biggest legislative spotlight came last May when he was one of two Republicans who voted against a constitutional amendment proposal that would ban gay marriages. He said he fought in Iraq for freedom, and the ban would be the opposite.

"I want to make sure that I am around for my sons during this very impressionable time in their lives," Kriesel said. "My wife Katie has been nothing short of amazing. She held down the fort when I was deployed overseas, pulled extra duty when I decided to run for office and worked full time through it all. I would not be in the position I am today without her love and support."

Kriesel was elected to the House in 2010 when he beat Jen Peterson, a Cottage Grove City Council member. The GOP gain in south Washington County helped to flip control of the House to Republicans.

While his letter was being circulated this morning, he was preparing to go in front of a House committee to argue for a bill that would limit immunity legislators get from arrest. His bill would remove their immunity to drunken driving arrests.

He said that he will continue to work on such projects the rest of the year.

"There is still much work to be done," Kriesel said. "I have a genuine passion for politics and plan to stay active, just not as a candidate."