The stage is finally set for a showdown between the three closely matched Republican candidates at this weekend’s endorsement convention in Albert Lea.
Byron resident Aaron Miller, Blue Earth resident Jim Hagedorn and Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson are each seeking to be named the official challenger to Democrat incumbent Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato. With all candidates pledging to abide by the endorsement, the Republican Party of Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District convention this weekend is poised to settle the issue.
Because each of the candidates is presenting similar campaign positions, the determining factor for the endorsement will likely depend on their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Miller is a command sergeant major in the Army Reserves who works for the biotech firm rEVO Biologics.
He is emphasizing his military experience as a nullification measure against Walz’s strong background on veteran issues. He also plans to emphasize his 15 years of private-sector experience in the health care industry.
Allen Quist, a prominent Republican from St. Peter who ran against Walz in 2012, has endorsed Miller.
Miller is facing criticism from some Republicans over a Rochester Post-Bulletin article in which he called for fixing the Affordable Care Act and called it unrealistic to seek repeal of the law. His later press releases have called for repealing the law.
He said he has always supported repeal and was simply taking about current political realities during the interview.
He has also only raised $24,000 in individual contributions raised over the last two reporting quarters. He has self-funded with a $40,000 loan on each of the last two quarters. However, he repaid the first loan last quarter, meaning the self-funding was not cumulative.
He said the other candidates have equally lagged behind previous 1st District Republican candidates. He said his total is because he is a political newcomer. He said he expects fundraising to pick up when an endorsed candidate is selected.