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St. Paul Park man challenges GOP, DFL in House 54A race

By his count, Ron Lischeid has run unsuccessfully for public office a dozen times.

City councils, school boards, state legislative seats -- he has sought them all across the Twin Cities metro area.

Never once has Lischeid come out on top at the ballot box.

"I'm the answer to the trivia question, 'Who has lost the most elections in the state of Minnesota since 1992?'" Lischeid joked recently.

Perhaps the 13th time is the charm.

The St. Paul Park resident threw his name in the ring for the vacant Minnesota House District 54A seat on the final day of the state filing period Tuesday, June 5, saying he represents the lone independent voice in the race to replace the retiring Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove.

"I'm the only candidate that can make the honest, truthful statement that I will never be told by a party or special interest how to vote," said Lischeid, who is running on the Minnesota Independence Party ticket.

Lischeid joins state GOP-endorsed Derrick Lehrke, a Cottage Grove City Council member, and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party-endorsed Dan Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer and St. Paul Park resident, in the 54A race. Both received their party's nods at nominating conventions in March.

District 54A includes part of Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Grey Cloud Island Township and a portion of South St. Paul.

A self-employed auto technician, Lischeid says he has lived in the district for roughly a year and says he believes he offers an alternative to the partisan gridlock that has gripped Minnesota state government in recent years.

"There needs to be someone in the Legislature that will hold Democrats and Republicans accountable to why they were elected to be there," he said. "And that was to serve the people of Minnesota."

Lischeid said he has been disappointed in a Legislature that promised a focus on job creation during the 2010 election and failed to deliver, blaming "hyper-partisan politics" for the problems at the State Capitol.

Over the past 20 years, Lischeid has run for Maple Grove City Council, a school board seat in the Osseo school district and multiple times against longtime incumbent state Rep. Phyllis Kahn in a Minneapolis House district.

Part of the challenge, he says, is getting voters to move beyond the belief that a vote for a candidate from outside the two major parties is a wasted one.

"If people feel that frustration [with Republicans and Democrats]," he said, "it has to start somewhere."