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Published August 08 2010

Two Republicans face off in Minnesota's 7th District primary

Although five candidates are vying this year for the seat in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, only two will face off in Tuesday’s state primary.

Alexandria resident Alan Roebke is challenging Willmar businessman Lee Byberg, the state Republican Party’s endorsed candidate in the race.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will take on 20-year Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party incumbent Collin Peterson, Independence Party candidate Glen Menze and independent candidate Gene Waldorf.

Byberg and Roebke both stressed agriculture, job creation and energy as among their top issues, but they offered different solutions in addressing problems that face the country – and specifically Minnesota’s 7th District, which encompasses much of the western part of the state, including Clay County.

With the next farm bill undergoing early development in Congress, Roebke said he wants to get rid of farm subsidies and replace the incentives with “sound policy.”

“All farm commodities can be raised without subsidies and be in a better position than they are right now,” said Roebke, who was a family farmer in rural Minnesota for 30 years.

The sugar beet industry already thrives off such a system, Roebke said, and it’s one that he thinks can work in the general marketplace.

“I’m saying we can eliminate the direct payments altogether and put in a sound commodity loan program like we’ve had in sugar for decades,” Roebke said. “My position is we’ll help the small family farms with sound policy and not subsidies, but for sure, we’re not going to give corporations these huge subsidies.”

This is Roebke’s second bid for the district’s U.S. House seat. He lost to Menze by 3.6 percentage points in the 2008 Republican primary.

Byberg said he wants to take an “all-inclusive” approach to address issues such as the national debt, energy policy and agriculture.

Byberg said offering incentives for alternative energy resources – as opposed to mandating regulations – could spark economic improvement.

“Energy can be used as a catalyst to re-strengthen and get the economy going again,” he said, adding that he wants America to be a world leader in developing nuclear, solar, wind, clean coal and biofuels energy sources.

When crafting a comprehensive agriculture policy, Byberg said Congress needs to acknowledge all facets of the industry that could be affected.

“What I would like to see moving forward is that as we keep improving and modifying our current ag policy, we take a better approach at recognizing all sides of the ag sector and the tremendous potential we have to produce more energy – but also recognize the implication on the livestock sector and the consumer that needs the products on a daily basis.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

Primary glance

Statewide and congressional primary election contests appearing on ballots Tuesday in west-central Minnesota

Governor-lieutenant governor

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Margaret Anderson Kelliher-John Gunyou (e)

Mark Dayton-Yvonne Prettner Solon

Matt Entenza-Robyne Robinson

Peter Idusogie-Lady Jayne Fontaine

Republican Party

Bob Carney Jr.-William McGaughey

Leslie Davis-Gregory K. Soderberg

Tom Emmer-Annette T. Meeks (e)

Ole Savior-Todd “Elvis” Anderson

Independence Party

Rob Hahn-Thomas J. Harens

Tom Horner-James A. Mulder (e)

Phil Ratte-Gayle-Lynn

John T. Uldrich-Stephen Williams

Rahn V. Workcuff-Mark F. Workcuff

Secretary of state

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Dick Franson

Mark Ritchie (i) (e)

Attorney general

Republican Party

Sharon Anderson

Chris Barden (e)

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Leo F. Meyer

Lori Swanson (i) (e)

Congressional District 7

Republican Party

Lee Byberg (e)

Alan Roebke

(i) incumbent

(e) party endorsed

Source: Secretary of state’s office

What you need to know to vote

Minnesota voters head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the state’s primary election.

Appearing on Clay County voters’ ballots will be candidates for the state’s 7th Congressional District, governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general.

Because it’s a primary election, voters can vote only for candidates in one political party.

Each voter must be registered in order to participate in the primary. Those that haven’t done so can register in person at the polls.

To register, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and a Minnesota resident for at least 20 days prior to the election, among other criteria. You must also present a form of identification, such as:

For complete Election Day information, go to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.state.mn.us.

Source: Minnesota Secretary of State