7th District: Menze begins campaign 'process
By Don Davis
St. Paul Capitol Bureau
ST. PAUL - Glen Menze knows his run for the U.S. House is a long shot.
For the second time, he faces popular and entrenched U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who has represented most of western Minnesota in the House since 1990.
Menze's chances? "Just as good as anybody else's," he said. "Ninety percent of incumbents go back to Washington. This is a process for me."
Menze said that if he loses this round, he probably will campaign the next two years to beat Peterson in 2010.
"Voters out here are slow to change," Menze said.
That would allow him time to attend more Republican Party events in the next two years to build support.
Republican support may be needed because Menze barely beat a mostly unknown candidate new to the 7th Congressional District in the Sept. 9 primary election.
Menze said he wanted to run a "more traditional, robust" primary campaign against Alan Roebke. Instead, he listened to others who said he need not worry about the primary opponent.
Menze said supporters of maverick Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul turned out in force to support Roebke, who finished just 3.5 points behind.
Republican leaders asked Menze to run, and he agreed to early this year, after the 2006 candidate, Michael Barrett, opted not to run again. He said he is a serious candidate, not just running so Republicans have a name on the ballot.
Menze, a 49-year-old accountant from Starbuck, received 31 percent of the vote when he ran against Peterson in 2000, about average for the incumbent's opponents.
The race has been quiet.
"I haven't seen hide nor hair of this guy," Peterson said of Menze. "He has been to one event."
Menze, who raised five children after being divorced, has used his family as campaign staff much of the time.
He quit farming his Starbuck-area land a year ago, leaving that up to his lone son. Like Peterson, Menze is an accountant.
"He didn't really go after cutting out the fat in the farm bill that he really should have," he said about Peterson. "That was really a nagging thing that kept propelling me toward running."
Menze rejects lobbyist money and will not even let one into his office if elected.
Peterson spends too much time with lobbyists, Menze said, "at the same time when there is a major bill (they promote) up in front of Congress."
Menze - who attended school in New York Mills, Minn. - said Peterson only has had two major bills pass under his name. "We need a leader who is more active."
7th District Profile
Political experience: Lost congressional race in 2000
Education: Minnesota State University Moorhead
Family: Divorced. Five children