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Newport man plans GOP challenge to Rep. McCollum

A Newport man and Navy veteran is planning to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum in the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District.

Dan Flood, 47, will seek the Republican Party's nomination at its April convention to face the six-term congresswoman in a district that includes Newport and a portion of St. Paul Park. A 20-year Navy veteran, Flood is making his first run for elected office against McCollum, a St. Paul Democrat who has won each of her six congressional races by a wide margin.

It's a tough task, he acknowledged, but Flood said he has the leadership skills lacking in Congress and a working-class background that will help him connect with voters in the 4th District.

"Congress is broken and it needs people that are willing to go there and make decisions based on what's right for the country and not on what's right for their next campaign," he said in a recent interview. "It's not fun to jump into a mess. But it is a lot of fun to go into a mess, work really hard and fix it and make things right again."

Flood said he made the decision to run last October after discussions with local Republican activists. No one else had expressed an interest in opposing McCollum, he said.

"Being an ex-Navy senior chief, I'm not averse to having a challenge," Flood said.

A native of southern Wisconsin, Flood spent two decades aboard submarines and an aircraft carrier as a nuclear machinist. He and his wife live in Newport, where Flood recently served on the city's Planning Commission before stepping down when he filed to run for office late last year.

Redrawn district boundaries released last week by a judicial panel extended the 4th District -- a seat McCollum has held since 2001-- to include Woodbury and ceded some traditionally Democratic areas to the 2nd District, which includes Cottage Grove. That, Flood said, may have made the 4th friendlier to a Republican.

"It does look as it's going to give us some kind of benefit," Flood said. "The key is [to] take nothing for granted."

The reshaped district also includes the home of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has said she will seek re-election in her old 6th District.

At least one other Republican candidate has stepped forward to challenge McCollum. St. Paul native Anthony Hernandez, who was planning a run against U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, announced Monday that he is switching to a 4th District bid.

McCollum confirmed in a statement that she'll seek re-election, though acknowledging it is unclear who she will be running against.

"What I do know is that I will be running on my record and with a commitment to keep fighting for the families of Ramsey and Washington Counties," she said.