Schwab set to challenge Piper

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2000

Grace Schwab is running for the Minnesota District 27 Senate seat held by Pat Piper.

Thursday, January 06, 2000

Grace Schwab is running for the Minnesota District 27 Senate seat held by Pat Piper.

Email newsletter signup

She will seek the Republican Party’s endorsement this spring. Schwab made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at the Austin Public Library.

One of the reasons why she is running is another story.

Her 14-year-old daughter, also named Grace, wants her mother to run.

"My oldest daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last October and she has been the driving force behind my plans to run for office," the candidate said. "Without her support and encouragement, I wouldn’t do this. I think she embodies the idea to live life to the fullest."

Schwab made the announcement flanked by her daughter, Grace, son Eric, 11, and another daughter, Katie, 8.

Her husband, Steven, watched from the audience of GOP faithful with her parents, David and Judy Stabell.

Schwab is an Albert Lea Public Library clerk. She also serves on the Albert Lea Public Schools Board of Education.

She holds a degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato, where she majored in political science and economics and where she also did graduate work in public administration.

Senate District 27 includes all of Freeborn County and most of Mower County. From the days it was District No. 5 and then District No. 31 and to the present District No. 27 status, it has been a DFL stronghold for decades represented by Baldy Hansen, then Tom Nelson and since 1986, the incumbent, Piper.

Republicans Jack Dibble, Mel Eichstadt, Brian Slowinski and Walter Baldus have attempted in recent elections to unseat Piper, but failed.

Now, Schwab will try to do what others have been unable to do: snatch a Senate seat held by a popular and respected member of the Minnesota Legislature.

Piper told the Austin Daily Herald: "No announcement will be made until after the year 2000 legislative session concludes."

That is typical of incumbents, who attempt to focus on the legislative session before beginning their re-election bids.

This year’s non-budget yet legislative session should last no more than six weeks after it convenes in February, but what a year lies ahead for the legislators. Every member of the Senate and the House will be up for re-election this year.

State Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna) attended Wednesday’s Schwab news conference.

"She’s a great candidate and has a good background to represent the district well," Day said.

Baldus, an Austin businessman, said he decided not to make another bid for the Senate seat for personal reasons. He also doesn’t expect another member of the GOP to come forward to challenge Schwab for the party’s nomination, beginning with the March 7 precinct caucuses and the endorsement convention in April.

"I’m very excited about Grace Schwab’s candidacy," Baldus said. "She brings the experience we are looking for and knows the issues."

Schwab said: "Positive, progressive politicians can make a difference in St. Paul" and called her running for political office "My way of giving back to the community."