Perham businessman takes leap from Main Street to political arena
"It's been a whirlwind," says Mark Murdock, the newly-endorsed Republican candidate for District 10B State Representative.
"Whirlwind" is an understated way of describing the turn of events over the past week.
It wasn't until the morning of the Republican endorsing convention that Murdock made the decision to pursue the party's nomination.
Although he'd been approached a few weeks earlier, and asked to consider running for representative, a final decision wasn't made until the convention date of June 17.
"The decision to run was a quick one, but it was well thought through," explains Murdock, a longtime Perham businessman. He said he spent the weeks prior to the convention talking with his wife Pat about the possibility of running for the State House of Representatives.
Murdock will be on the ballot for the state representative position currently held by Dean Simpson. Simpson recently announced his decision to resign, citing a need to concentrate on his family and businesses, along with giving others an opportunity to serve.
The Democratic candidate for House District 10B is Tim Nieminen from Wadena. Already endorsed for House District 10A is returning representative Bud Nornes, Republican. The Democrat endorsed for House District 10A is Greg Stumbo.
"We have a senate district, Senate District 10, which comprises all of Otter Tail County, Wadena County, and six precincts in Becker County," explains Betty Staebler, Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Otter Tail County.
House District 10B includes the eastern half of Otter Tail County, all of Wadena County, and six precincts in Becker County.
At the June 17 endorsing convention, held at the community center in Ottertail, Murdock met with the nominating committee prior to the meeting. He was asked various questions regarding policies and issues.
"He knows where he's going. He's going to be a hard worker and he expresses himself very well," Senate District Chairperson Arles Kumpula said of Murdock. "I think Mark is really enthused; he's ready to go."
According to Kumpula, who organized the Ottertail endorsing convention, the delegates and alternates seemed to receive Murdock very well. "He's the kind of person who is very outgoing and meets people easily," she added.
One of the greatest strengths Kumpula says she sees in Murdock is his business experience. Along with his wife Pat, Murdock has successfully run the Ace Hardware store in Perham for the past 12 years. Kumpula explains, "There aren't too many entrepreneurs in our political system."
In addition to his 25 years of retail experience, Murdock cites his marriage as an example of his dedication and character. "This October, we'll have been married for 34 years," he says with a smile.
Together, the couple has two children, sons Adam and Nicholas. They live on Round Lake, near Ottertail city.
Although Murdock hasn't been involved in the political arena up until this point, he has held leadership positions in several community organizations. Prior to moving to the Perham area, he was parish council president in Dodge Center, Minn.
Murdock is the first one to admit that he might not fit the typical politician stereotype. "I don't want to be a politician," he comments. "I want to be a representative."
"I'm driven on education, lowering taxes, and looking out for small businesses," he elaborates on his convictions. "I'm extremely pro life, a sportsman, and pro gun."
One of his main issues is the problems that many small resorts are facing with increasing taxes. "We have to do something about the property taxes resorts are paying," Murdock says. In particular, he is concerned about the "Ma and Pa resorts", which he says are being forced to close at alarming numbers.
A true lover of the outdoors, Murdock feels a special motivation to protect the activities he values. He describes himself as an avid hunter and fisherman, who also loves to play golf-- when he can find the time.
In the week since his nomination, Murdock has already been gearing up for his campaign, with the assistance of family, friends, and members of the Perham business community.
Murdock adds how Dean Simpson has already been a lot of help, getting him prepared for the upcoming election.
Murdock has already had a presence in parades in Perham, Wadena, and Sebeka, with several more events on the agenda.
"The support has been phenomenal," Murdock said. "It's going to be fun; it's going to be a challenge. I'm humbled by the confidence people have in me."
Murdock summarizes his campaign, saying, "I'm a simple hardware guy, running for office to serve the people."
Heidi Kratzke is a reporter for the Perham Enterprise Bulletin, a publication of Forum Communications Co.