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Campaign season arrives with filing process

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's campaign season officially began on Tuesday.

As she has for five elections, Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, stayed overnight on her lawn chair in a hallway outside the secretary of state's office to be first in line to file candidate paperwork. Before the office opened at 8 a.m., three others also were in line, the first of many throughout Minnesota to file for federal, state, local and judicial offices by 5 p.m. June 5.

Peppin and other candidates said that being early shows voters how deeply they care about their races.

Being first is a tradition for Peppin. She arrived at 2 p.m. Monday to make sure no one beat her.

State Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, running in the 1st Congressional District Republican primary, arrived at 7:20 a.m. He said he was up at 5 a.m. cleaning his St. Paul apartment, and decided "maybe I could be second in line to Joyce."

But Dick Franson took that honor. The Democrat is running for the U.S. Senate for the seventh time. In all, he has run for office 26 times, winning only his first race, for Minneapolis City Council.

The fourth early filer was Rick Nolan, who faces a Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District in northeast and east-central Minnesota.

"I wanted to be here early to emphasize its importance," Nolan said of the race in the district now represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.

The first four candidates got to the secretary of state's counter first, filed out paperwork and handed over checks of $400 for U.S. Senate, $300 for U.S. House and $100 for state legislator.

State Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, came in right behind the first four, filing papers to run for re-election.

"The main thing is just to get filed on the first day," Howe said, "I think it's important to let your intentions be known right away, and to let the people of the district know how proud I am to continue serving them."

In 2010, Howe also was the first state Senate candidate to file.

U.S. House and Senate candidates must file in the secretary of state's office in St. Paul, state and judicial candidates may file either in the secretary of state's office or their local county auditor's offices. City candidates file with city clerks, county candidates with county auditors and school district candidates file with school district clerks.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie greeted the early filers this morning, saying news coverage reminds the public about the election process.

Ritchie said the Nov. 6 general election should attract more than the 2.92 million voters that cast ballots two years ago. The Aug. 14 primary election turnout likely will be spotty, he said, with more voting in a few hotly contested races.

While most candidates file paperwork in person, some mail it in. One is Jack Shepherd, who is running for U.S. Senate seat from Italy, where he lives because he is wanted in an arson investigation in Minnesota.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.