Quist makes a run for Congress

Published 7:28 am Friday, November 20, 2009

Allen Quist is coming out of retirement and making a run for Congress.

The retired college teacher and rural farm owner — who also served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1982 to 1988 — announced Thursday that he will challenge DFL Rep. Tim Walz for his First District congressional seat, which is up for election next year.

Speaking at the Austin Public Library, Quist, a Republican, said he feels like Walz and the rest of Congress are “heading in the wrong direction.”

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Specifically, he called out Walz for his support of the stimulus package, the health care bill, and a cap and trade policy — areas where Quist said government spending has or could run amok.

“We have a spending crisis,” he said.

Quist said residents of southern Minnesota’s First District want more balanced spending and better fiscal responsibility from Congress, something Walz isn’t in-tune with.

“He’s out of step with people in this district,” Quist said. “He’s representing (Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi.”

Though he was happily retired, Quist said he felt like he had to do something as he watched the federal deficit grow.

“We have to do whatever we can as citizens,” he said. “This is something I can do.”

Quist also said he has no personal stake in the election.

“I don’t need this,” he added.

Instead, the former teacher at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato said he simply wants to be an alternative to the status quo.

“If people like what Congress is doing, they should vote for the incumbent,” Quist said in an e-mailed statement. “But if they believe, as I do, that Congress is headed in the wrong direction, then I will be the alternative.”

In challenging Walz, Quist is going up against a two-term representative who won an election in 2008 with nearly 63 percent of the vote.

But Quist and his supporters are confident.

This includes Reuben Unseth, an Austin insurance agent who came to see Quist’s speech Thursday.

Unseth said he is impressed by Quist and feels that he is a good candidate.

“(Quist) will attract people who care about ‘core values,’” Unseth said. “He’ll be their voice.”

Unseth added that the change is needed.

“I too am concerned with the direction our Congress is taking,” he said. “Walz is lock-step with Pelosi.”

Walz campaign manager Richard Carlbom said the representative does what is best for the district.

“He is representing the people of southern Minnesota, just like they elected him to do,” Carlbom said.

The campaign manager said Quist needs to focus on what he’s for — not what he’s against — before he can become a serious candidate.

Carlbom also said Quist is by no means guaranteed the Republican nomination in what is still an undecided race.

In the meantime, Carlbom said Walz will remain focused on the residents of southern Minnesota.

“He will continue to represent their best interests,” Carlbom said.