by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
He’s the best Republican 6th Congressional District candidate because he’s a proven winner, insisted Sen. John Pederson.
“I am the best candidate because I have the ability to get votes from Independents and fiscally conservative Democrats,” Pederson, of St. Cloud, said.
Pederson recently entered the high-profile 6th District race, one shaken by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s decision not to seek re-election. He is vying against former Rep. Tom Emmer, failed 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah to be the party’s candidate.
It’s critical the party has a candidate who won’t mess up, Pederson said.
“I’m not likely to do that,” he said.
Born on a farm in Wright County, Pederson, 45, entered the family cement business, Amcon Block and Precast, 23 years ago. Pederson, who holds a master’s degree in business administration, has also taught part time at St. Cloud Technical College and Rasmussen College. Married, he is the father of three boys.
Although casting himself a nearly lifetime resident of the area, Pederson is a relative newcomer to local Republican Party politics, he said.
Pederson hasn’t been pining to run for Congress — he hadn’t really thought about it, he said. But then people began calling.
“That’s when I started getting phones calls and encouragements,” said Pederson of the aftermath of Bachmann dropping out.
Pederson characterizes himself as a consensus builder, good at developing relationships — a prized skill in politics, he argues.
While sometimes rising to speak on the Senate floor, Pederson hasn’t made it a habit.
“I would say that’s a bit more of my approach, no doubt,” he said of using few words. People are more likely to listen to an infrequent speaker, he said.
But he can ably represent conservative values.
“Fiscal conservative values are for everybody,” Pederson said.
Speaking on a few issues, Pederson said he would work to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“I would say right now that’s probably the biggest single factor putting a damper on the economy,” Pederson said. “I believe health care decisions belong back in the states.”
On immigration, Pederson cites securing the borders as central to immigration legislation.
“None of this stuff means anything unless we have a secure border,” he said.
On same-sex marriage, Pederson indicated the issue has moved on.
“I would say, because the Supreme Court has ruled, that issue is over,” Pederson said. “I would encourage people, if they want to work on that issue, to focus on their state.”
While Bachmann is known for her stance on social issues, Pederson’s focus would be elsewhere.
“I am a social conservative — let’s be clear about that,” he said. “(But) I think residents of the district want us to focus on economy, on jobs, on economic growth.”
DFL State Party Chairman Ken Martin in a statement slammed Pederson, former Senate Capital Investment Committee vice chair, for failing to deliver on the St. Cloud Civic Center. He further described Pederson as handpicked by business interests.
But Pederson heralds his small business credentials.
“I understand people need to have a good job,” he said.
Pederson seeks the Republican 6th District endorsement but has not decided on whether to abide by it.
“As far as a decision like that, we won’t be making it at this point, so early in the campaign process,” Pederson said.
Before being elected to the Senate, Pederson served on the St. Cloud City Council.
Tim Budig is at [email protected].