Republicans vie to challenge Collin Petersonby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
On Tuesday, voters in Minnesota's 7th Congressional district choose a Republican candidate for Congress.
Glen Menze has the party endorsement, but faces a challenge from Alan Roebke.
Moorhead, Minn. — It's been a very low profile race with no ads on the airwaves and few public appearances.
Both candidates have struggled to raise money. The endorsed Republican, Glen Menze, said he learned an important lesson from his last campaign in 2000, when he won the primary, but was trounced by Rep. Collin Peterson(D-Minn.) in November.
"Last time I ran I spent most of my money on the primary and won the primary handily and had nothing left for the fall," Menze said. "And in that kind of situation you're kind of dead in the water in the fall."
His most recent campaign finance report shows less than $1,000 on hand, and Menze said this year he's focused meeting voters at county fairs, and building a strong internet presence.
Challenger Alan Roebke has raised no money and is also using the internet to get his message out to voters. He said the cost of gas has kept him from traveling across the sprawling 7th district which covers nearly the entire western side of Minnesota. Roebke said he's the candidate who can energize the district's Republican base.
"Glen Menze in 2000 brought nothing to the table," said Roebke. "He didn't do anything to energize the Republican base or the Independents or the conservative Democrats. Alan Roebke will do that."
Roebke said energy and the economy are key issues for the 7th district. But his main focus is fixing what he calls a failed federal farm policy.
Endorsed candidate Glen Menze agrees there are problems in the farm bill, but he said the economy and energy costs are the top issues in voter's minds.
"Alan is pretty much a one tune horn," Menze said. "He just wants to talk about problems in the ag bill and he doesn't talk a whole lot about what else he stands for."
Glen Menze calls himself a middle of the road Republican whose views align well with mostly conservative voters in the 7th district.
Alan Roebke said he's a Lincoln Republican whose life experience makes him a better candidate. Roebke is a convicted felon who spent time in a federal prison for selling grain that belonged to the government. He contends he was protesting federal farm policy, and as a result lost his farm and learned what it's like to live in poverty.
"I'm a much better candidate; I'm a much better Christian, even though I always was a good Christian first and foremost," Roebke said. "I bring more to the table because of my conviction than without it."
The candidate who wins Tuesday's primary will have the challenging task of taking on incumbent Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in November. The nine-term Democrat chairs the powerful House Agriculture committee and has more than a half-million dollars in his campaign war chest.
- Morning Edition, 09/05/2008, 6:50 a.m.