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Vergas woman plans to seek GOP nod in District 10 State Senate race

Gretchen Hoffman

WADENA -- A Vergas woman announced her intention Wednesday to seek the District 10 GOP nomination and challenge State Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, next November.

Gretchen Hoffman was introduced by Sue Nelson as a "new breed of leader" at a campaign kick-off at the Depot in Wadena.

Hoffman, a registered nurse with 20 years of experience, listed job creation, economic development, health care, education, budget and tax reform as her top priorities in seeking the seat. Her campaign theme is "It's a Matter of Priorities."

She is a small business owner and member of the Board of Directors of GPK Products, Inc., a family-owned manufacturer of PVC water and wastewater fittings, which employs 140 people, according to a news release.

Hoffman has an associate's degree in business administration, and received her associate degree in nursing from Brainerd Community College. She and her husband Virgil have been married 27 years and have three adult sons.

Hoffman will be seeking Republican endorsement in the spring of 2010. She had a crowd of about 20 supporters who cheered her on and asked her questions, including whether she was pro-life (she is, describing herself as "very pro-life"), and whether she believes illegal immigration is a relevant issue to District 10 (she does, citing Minnesota's proximity to Canada.) She also said she favors cutting regulation and cutting taxes to make Minnesota more business-friendly, and she cited a disparity between funding for school districts in the metro area and rural areas of Minnesota as a campaign issue.

Skogen, contacted this week, said he is planning to seek re-election to what will be a two-year term. Minnesota senators, because of 10-year redistricting cycles, are elected to two four-year terms and then a two-year term. Skogen is serving his first four-year term.

It's not the only political race. Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail, also serving in his first term, said Monday that he plans to seek re-election as well. Murdock said he has enjoyed the job and wants to be returned to St. Paul to finish his work.

Former Wadena City Councilman Pete Phillips has announced his intention to seek the DFL endorsement to challenge Murdock in the fall.