ST. PETER - The special election to fill the vacant Minnesota House 19A seat climbed to six potential candidates Thursday with the addition of another Democrat and a Republican.
Jim Golgart, of St. Peter, a veteran and officer with the Veterans Affairs Office, announced Thursday he would seek the Republican endorsement. He is the first Republican candidate to officially enter the race. The other potential candidate is Allen Quist who unsuccessfully ran for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District in 2012.
Clark Johnson is seeking the DFL?endorsement to be the candidate for House District 19A.
Golgart said his platform would focus demanding the completion of a four-lane expansion of Highway 14 and working to increase the number of jobs in Minnesota, with a special focus on improving employment opportunities for veterans.
He said he has no interest in running on any social issues for the special election nor pushing any if elected.
Golgart ran for commissioner in Nicollet County District 1 in last year's primary, but he came in third place with 46 votes, or 9.2 percent. During his campaign, he spoke against unfunded mandates and called for increasing the amount of Local Government Aid to cities, which has been reduced in the last few years. He continues to supports increased LGA, but will not make it a focus of his campaign.
Golgart said he would abide by any potential Republican primary.
Clark Johnson, a faculty member at MSU-Mankato who lives in North Mankato, also announced Thursday he would run as a DFL candidate. He is the third DFLer in the race.
Johnson is the first officially declared candidate with political experience. He ran as a DFL candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1984, but lost in the general election. He served as a lobbyist for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission in 1981 and worked as a campaign aide for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party from 1976 to 1980. From 1977 to 1979 he worked as the legislative assistant to North Dakota U.S. Senator Quentin Burdick.
He said his major platform focus is creating a long-term, stable state budgeting system to prevent the chronic deficits of recent decades.
"I'm a guy that got a good public education and worked that into a job, a retirement plan and a good house. I think my neighbors deserve the same. Stabilizing the [state] finances can enable that," said Johnson.
He said he will emphasize college affordability, controlling student debt and working on taxes.
He would also focus on completing a four-lane expansion of Highway 14.
"Highway 14 is real. I've seen too many people killed on that road. It's a sad part of our community's story, we need to deal with it," said Johnson.
He said a four-lane expansion for Highway 14 was equally important for the large amount of regional trucking that utilizes the road.
Finally, he said he has strong interest in partnership between government entities and private entities to create methods for helping entrepreneurial businesses get started.
Johnson has no interest in pushing any kind of social issues in either the race or the Legislature.
"I think the time is not right for social issues. We saw what happened with the last Legislature when they over emphasized [social issues]. They got diverted and ended up with having to have a special session," said Johnson.
Johnson said he would abide by any DFL endorsement convention. He said he does not expect any infighting among the DFL candidates.
The other two announced DFL candidates are Mankato teacher and union leader Robin Courrier and Karl Johnson, the former president of several national and state pork producer organizations.
Rural agricultural businessman and author Tim Gieseke is currently the only candidate running for the Independence Party.
District 19A includes much of rural Nicollet County, as well as the cities of Courtland, St. Peter, Nicollet and North Mankato.
The 19A vacancy was created in December when Terry Morrow announced his resignation to take a job in Chicago. A special election must be held within 40 days of his official resignation next Monday, Jan. 7. Gov. Mark Dayton as of Thursday night has not yet announced a date for the election.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)