Two southeast Minnesota DFLers seeking state office have chosen to take on different battles.
Jon Pieper, of Lanesboro, was working toward a second nomination for the House 28B seat occupied by long-term state Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston. Newcomer Thomas Trehus, who announce his candidacy late last year, also initially planned to vie for the seat, setting up a DFL primary.
But in a last-minute decision before last weekend’s nominating convention, Pieper decided to drop out of the House race, leaving Trehus to run against Davids. Pieper will instead now challenge Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, for the District 28 seat Miller won in 2010.
Pieper said in an interview Tuesday that the decision was primarily practical, and doesn’t change the focus or issues of his campaign. He said after discussions with state party leaders, it made sense for him and Trehus to try to divide and conquer, rather than challenge each other.
“We had two viable candidates for the House, and no one was stepping up to challenge Jeremy,” Pieper said.
Pieper said his focus will still be on funding education and efforts for small businesses, farmers and rural communities, all issues he spoke consistently on during his 2014 run against Davids.
The only thing that changes for him in the Senate race, he said, is that he has “twice as many doors to knock.”
Pieper’s run against Davids was his first race; he lost with 44 percent of the vote to Davids’ 56 percent.
Pieper has owned a restaurant in the Lanesboro for more than 20 years and farmed for over 25 years in the Lanesboro area.
Trehus, a Spring Grove resident, said his experience in government and age — he will be 26 this year — makes him an ideal candidate to challenge Davids, who has served 12 non-consecutive terms (he narrowly lost to Ken Tschumper in 2006, and reclaimed the seat in 2008) and currently serves as the powerful House tax chair.
Trehus, who grew up in Spring Grove and recently returned after working for U.S. Sen. Al Franken, is a member of the Spring Grove Public School Board.
He said he supports strengthening rural communities, and shares similar issues of concern to Pieper.
“I think there has to be more focus on funding our schools,” Trehus said, “and providing tax relief to small businesses and small farmers.”
“It’s time for some new ideas.”