by Joni Astrup
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer and Paul Bolin will face off in the Aug. 14 primary election to determine who will run on the Republican ticket for an open Minnesota Senate seat.
The seat — Senate District 30 — includes the cities of Elk River, Otsego, Big Lake, Albertville, St. Michael and Hanover.
Kiffmeyer, of Big Lake Township, had won the Republican endorsement in March during a convention in which she was unopposed.
But now Bolin is challenging her.
“I decided to run because I am concerned about the direction of our state,” Bolin said. “Recent polls have shown that young Democrats outnumber young Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. I feel that if our pro-growth, conservative principles are to survive in the long-term, we need to elect more young conservatives who can connect with these voters.”
Bolin said it’s no secret that Kiffmeyer has been in politics for the last three decades.
“I think we need to circulate new ideas into the Capitol,” he said.
Bolin grew up in Otsego. He was active with the College Republicans chapter at the University of Minnesota, where he completed degrees in biochemistry and physiology before graduating from medical school at the University of Illinois in 2011.
Bolin had run for the Republican endorsement in House District 30B in March, but lost to Dave FitzSimmons of Albertville.
Kiffmeyer, meanwhile, was Minnesota secretary of state from 1999–2006. She was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2008.
Kiffmeyer currently represents District 16B, which includes most of Sherburne County.
Senate District 30 was created earlier this year as the result of redistricting, which is the process of redrawing the boundaries of election districts to ensure that the people of each district are equally represented. Redistricting takes place every 10 years following the census.
There is no incumbent senator in the new District 30.
Kiffmeyer said the biggest issues that unite the new district are transportation, equity in school funding and pro-job growth policies.
She said she would continue standing strong for traditional values like pro-life and the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and continue to push for many of the initiatives that she has championed as a state representative and, prior to that, as secretary of state.
“I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to continue to serve my area as a state senator,” she said. “I enjoy being an advocate and voice for the people.”
She noted that it took hard work the last two years to change a $5.2 billion shortfall into a $1.2 billion surplus, and proved that holding the line on spending, not raising taxes and putting reforms in place are the best policies for Minnesota.
Next year the state faces a projected $1.2 billion budget shortfall, Kiffmeyer said. To reduce spending and make reforms will take knowledge of the process, finances and where to make changes to balance the budget, she said.
She also was chief author of the photo ID contitutional amendment.
Bolin, meanwhile, said he passionately feels a need to reduce the size of government, and that starts by reducing taxes at all levels.
In addition to bringing jobs to Minnesota and reining in spending, Bolin said his other legislative priorities include introducing a right-to-work amendment and bringing equity in education.
He also pledges to bring “a tremendous amount of energy” to the district.
“I’ve already visited nearly 800 homes across the area, and plan to visit many more. I’m doing this all on foot. My campaign is practicing the limited government philosophy that it’s preaching,” he said.
He said he refuses to take campaign funds from the government.
“Even though I’m running against a well-known name, I’m running my campaign on coffee and neighborly discussion, not government money,” he said.