Iraq War veteran challenges Kline

Former Watertown mayor Steve Sarvi, a veteran of the Iraq War, filed to run against Rep. John Kline today in Minnesota's Second Congressional District. Sarvi returned from a 16-month tour of duty with the National Guard in July. The 42-year-old father of three is currently the city administrator of Victoria.

“I am very proud to have served my country in Iraq,” says Sarvi in a press release announcing his campaign. “Our district deserves a representative in Congress who will put the safety of our troops and the well-being of our families ahead of blind party loyalty."

Kline, a three-term Republican from Lakeville, has been among the staunchest supporters of President Bush's Iraq policies. In 2006 he easily outpolled former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, 56 to 40 percent, despite the most favorable political climate for Democrats in two decades.

The Minnesota DFL Party just issued a statement making the case that, despite Kline's easy victory, the 2nd district is trending Democrat. In 2006 Amy Klobuchar earned 53 percent of the vote in her successful Senate run against Mark Kennedy, while 16 of the district's 33 state legislative seats are now held by DFL'ers, an increase of 10 since 2004.

Sarvi's campaign sets up a potential scenario similar to that faced by Rep. Gil Gutknecht last year. The six-term Republican was ousted by retired Army National Guard member Tim Walz.