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Two file to run against Gunther, Rosen

By Staff | Jun 11, 2012

Legislative incumbents Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont), Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) file for re-election together at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office in St. Paul.

Two long-time incumbent Republican legislators will have to defeat newcomers to the political scene if they want to serve another term.

Paul Marquardt of Eagle Lake has filed to run against Dist. 23 Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont, while Kevin Labenz of Welcome will challenge Rep. Bob Gunther, also of Fairmont.

Marquardt, a recently retired plumber, says he’s running for Rosen’s senate seat to focus on creating jobs in agriculture and construction.

“I don’t think she’s in the district enough and doesn’t represent the people. I feel sorry for the next generation, they have no jobs to go to,” he says.

“I want to make a difference. The only way to change things is to get involved,” he adds.

The 55-year-old Marquardt credits Rosen for her work to pass the Vikings stadium bill.

He says although many construction jobs will be created, more needs to be done.

“I’d like to see a focus on agriculture-related jobs,” he adds.

This is the first time the rural Eagle Lake resident has ever run for office.

If elected, Marquardt says he has no plans on being a “career politician.”

Marquardt, who has been married for 32 years, describes himself as a “pro” candidate – pro-choice, pro-gun and pro-work for families.

Marquardt is not too impressed with the constitutional amendments like banning gay marriage and voter ID?being on the ballot in November.

“When all they can come up with are constitutional amendments on the ballot, some lawmakers need to be replaced,” he says. “Those shouldn’t be on the ballot. You send legislators there to vote.”

Labenz, a 2000 graduate of Martin County West High School, also is running for office for the first time.

After graduating from Hamline University with a political science degree, Labenz taught English at a university in Japan for five years.

The 30-year-old Martin County native touts his work experience of more than a decade in education and agriculture.

He says his campaign for the District 23A seat will center on economic development, agriculture and education issues.

“There aren’t enough good jobs for younger people to stick around here. I think southern Minnesota has a lot of potential,” he says. “I think new leadership in the Legislature can make the difference.”

Labenz admits that his opponent, who has served since 1995, will be tough to beat.

He says he’s ready to do a lot of “door knocking and handshaking” to get his message out to voters.

That will include attending many events, such as fairs and parades, in a district that covers a majority of Faribault and Blue Earth counties, portions of Watonwan, Jackson and LeSueur counties and all of Martin County.

“It’s going to take hard work and a lot of time. I have the energy and commitment,” he says. “Once I get my message out, voters will see they have a clear choice when they go to the polls.”

In the District 27A House race, that includes the Faribault County cities of Wells, Kiester and Walters and townships of Clark, Dunbar, Foster and Kiester, there is a three-way race.

Republican incumbent Rich Murray of Albert Lea will face Democrat Shannon Savick of Wells and Independent William J. Wagner.

In the county races, two Faribault County commissioners are running unopposed.

District 1 Commissioner John Roper and District 3 Commissioner Bill Groskreutz will serve another four-year term.

District 5 Commissioner Tom Warmka is being challenged by Paul Bach.

Soil and water supervisors Milton Steele of District 1 and Neal Mensing of District 4 are the only candidates to file for their positions.