Perske appears ready to take next step

Sartell Mayor Joe Perske, who’s pondering running as a DFLer to succeed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, says a final announcement on his plans could come as soon as this week.

Based on his comments to the Times in interviews last week, Perske sounds almost ready to join the fray.

Perske, a first-term mayor and a Sartell Middle School teacher, acknowledged last month he may seek the DFL nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. Bachmann, R-Stillwater, says she won’t seek re-election, leaving the seat open for the 2014 election.

Lead-abatement activist Judy Adams of Circle Pines is the only other DFLer to say she’s running in the 6th District. Republican candidates so far are 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer, St. Cloud state Sen. John Pederson, Anoka County Board chair Rhonda Sivarajah and Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie.

Perske says a recent vacation gave him time to ponder a congressional candidacy and discuss it with his wife.

He said he also has discussed a possible run with three DFL congressmen from Minnesota: Reps. Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz.

Perske said he’s troubled that no other DFLers, except for Adams, appear to be pursuing a 6th District run.

“Nobody’s stepping to the plate, and that’s bothering to me,” Perske said. “Maybe I have to be that person.”

Perske acknowledged he’s “not an articulate politician” but says that might not be a problem for many 6th District voters.

“I change my own oil. I cut my own coupons. I don’t know how many congressmen do that,” Perske said. “I represent the working class of Central Minnesota.”

Perske says he considers himself a “Blue Dog,” or centrist, Democrat because he says he’s against abortion rights and supports Second Amendment rights. Still, he says he’s not a Republican because they aren’t offering solutions to create livable wage jobs or improve education or health care access.

Jim Graves, the DFLer who nearly upset Bachmann in 2012 and was set to challenge her again in 2014 until she announced she wouldn’t run again, said last month he has urged Perske to run. Perske also said he has conferred with officials from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about a potential bid.

Any DFL candidate will face steep odds in the Republican-leaning 6th District, which covers the St. Cloud area and parts of the northern and far western Twin Cities suburbs and exurbs.

But it’s clear Perske is giving it real thought — and may be poised to take the next step.

“The opportunity is there,” he said. “It will probably never come in front of my face again.”

Keep up with the Central Minnesota political scene in The Political Quarry, www.sctimes.com/politicalquarry. Follow reporter Mark Sommerhauser on Twitter @msommerhauser and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimesmark.

Mark Sommerhauser

About Mark Sommerhauser

Greetings! I cover state and some federal politics for the St. Cloud Times. Before this, I worked the political beat at the Winona Daily News.
Follow Mark Sommerhauser at https://twitter.com/msommerhauser
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