Paul Holle, a Wheaton, Minn, resident and early heart transplant recipient, has been tapped by the Republicans to take on longtime DFL Sen. Keith Langseth of Glyndon.
In 1986, in need of heart repair, Holle became the second heart transplant recipient at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. In 2001, to celebrate his 15th year of donor good health, and to raise awareness of the organ donation program, Holle spent 29 days walking from Minneapolis to his donor's hospital in Minot, N.D.
A trained pastor, he is on sabbatical to run for the Minnesota Senate District 9 seat, held by Langseth since 1980. The district includes Detroit Lakes, and the townships of Cormorant, Lake Eunice and Lake View.
As a pastor and heart recipient, the slogan for Holle's first political campaign is "A heart to protect our future."
"I want to protect our future, protect families, protect children, protect pocketbooks," he said in an interview. "Things are getting a little bit loose and unguided, and when that happened, Rome fell."
Asked his affiliations, Holle lists Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the National Rifle Association, Biodiesel Backers, and the Republican Party.
He said his key issues for the campaign will be the pro-life cause; keeping a marriage between a man and a woman; reining in health care and prescription drug costs; and advocating longer prison sentences for sexual predators, murderers, and those who make, use and sell illegal drugs.
He also supports more ethanol and biodiesel production.
Asked how stringent abortion laws should be, Holle said "it becomes a real interesting spiritual thing for me," whether to outlaw abortion in cases of rape or to save the life of the mother.
Concerning rape, God doesn't look at how the child is conceived, but rather "what God has planned for your child, what your child is going to be doing when he's 30," he said.
He supports the South Dakota law banning all abortion except to save the life of the mother.
He also firmly opposes gay marriage. "Marriage has to remain between a man and a woman," he said. "A real godly traditional marriage has to be held tight to."
The state will be able to pay for more prison cells without raising taxes by cutting other programs and eliminating waste and fraud, in the medical field, for example, Holle said. He cited examples from his own medical history, in which he was billed several times for the same procedure. "I think it's possible to reorganize where the money is (allocated by the state)," he said.
He said Langseth, who chairs the powerful Senate bonding committee, should do a better job of making sure state money is fairly distributed across rural and metro Minnesota.
"State money for schools and roads should be spread more evenly -- if you drive between Detroit Lakes and Fargo on Highway 10, that's a rough road."
State help with the Pavilion renovation project was nice, he added, but bonding money doesn't always get to rural Minnesota.
"Now they're talking about putting in trails (along Highway 34 from Park Rapids to Detroit Lakes). That's unnecessary funding. It would be really nice to have those trails, but we have to take care of our highways first."
Langseth has been in the Legislature since 1974, Holle said. "Theoretically, he could be in a rut," he said.
He also criticized Langseth for helping block the marriage amendment from a public vote, and for getting very low pro-life ratings from the MCCL.
"The morals and ethics of the Democratic Party voting is not pro-life, and he should give people of Minnesota the vote on it (the marriage amendment)," he said.
Holle, 45, has been married for three years to Angie, who works at a group home in Wheaton. He has five children, David, Jacob, Erin, Alex and Dillon. The oldest, David, just graduated from high school.
Holle grew up on a dairy farm near Grove City, Minn., and earned his theological degree from Bethel College and Bethel Seminary from 1979 to 1988.
His first job was as pastor of Dalbo Baptist Church, and he next worked as a pastor at a Baptist church in Benson. He served as a chaplain resident at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and at Regent's Hospital in downtown St. Paul.
"It was easy for me to relate to people in hospital beds after being a virtual career patient," he said. "You know exactly what questions to ask and you almost know exactly what they're going to say. Doing chaplain's work was incredible."
Holle also worked at a Methodist-Presbyterian church in Beardsley-Browns Valley , and as a nursing home chaplain in Litchfield, where he graduated from high school.