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GOP won't say who might run against Oberstar

Republicans in the 8th Congressional District are keeping mum on who they'll endorse to take on Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar this fall -- at least for now.

Republicans in the 8th Congressional District are keeping mum on who they'll endorse to take on Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar this fall -- at least for now.

At the party's district convention this weekend, party members elected delegates for the national convention and passed resolutions, but didn't perform an important convention function: endorsing a district candidate.

District Chairman Ted Lovdahl said they have someone in mind who needs a bit of coaxing before he'll go public, but he declined to give his name, profession or city of residence other than to say he's a "businessman" who expects to make a decision in "a week or so."

"I've got a committee that's working with him and encouraging him to run," Lovdahl said of the mystery candidate. "They're answering all his questions about what all it entails."

Should this person decide in the affirmative, the party would call another district convention so delegates could vote on whether to give him their endorsement, Lovdahl said.

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Mark Drake, communications director for the Republican party of Minnesota, confirmed the party had eyes on someone: "At the moment, there is certainly a leading potential candidate, but this person has yet to make a final decision," he said via e-mail.

Local Republicans professed ignorance on the issue. City Councilor Jim Stauber said he had not heard anything, and House District 7A Chairwoman Carinda Horton, who attended Saturday's convention, said she doesn't "even know of a rumor."

Horton said convention-goers knew ahead of time they would not be endorsing someone on Saturday, and that no one there even thought about it because they had so much else to accomplish.

"I have no one in mind," she said. "I know of people, but I don't know if they're interested in running."

One thing Lovdahl would confirm is the person is not Rod Grams, the former U.S. senator who Oberstar beat

2-to-1 in 2006.

Oberstar has had a prodigious election history in the district; in his 17 general elections he's garnered an average of 71 percent of the vote, and has only dipped below 60 percent once (he received 59 percent in 1992).

Still, Oberstar campaign manager Blake Chaffee said the House Transportation Committee chairman won't rest on his laurels this time around.

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"We're not going to take anything for granted," Chaffee said. "He's served in this district for a long time. He's ready to talk about the future, his plans for transportation and his plans to fight the stumbling economy."

Lovdahl seemed confident that his candidate had a shot of toppling Minnesota's most senior congressman.

"That's why we're courting him, because we're confident he can give Oberstar a good run for his money and hopefully win," he said. "We don't want somebody to put their name in just to put their name in. We want someone who will work to win."

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