ST. CLOUD -- Residents in eastern Stearns County - and a small part of Benton County - will determine who has control of the of Minnesota State Senate for the next two years.

Wednesday the two candidates running in a special election for the Senate District 13 seat, formerly held by Republican Michelle Fischbach, were on the News @ Noon show on WJON. It is the only Senate race in November, and with 33 Democrats and 33 Republicans currently in the Senate, there's a whole lot riding on this race.

Republican Representative Jeff Howe says he'll focus on keeping the Senate pro-life.

I will say that my first two votes in the Senate when I get elected are going to be for pro-life votes.  One will be for the majority leader and the second pro-life vote I'll take is for the president of the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Democrat and current Stearns County Commissioner Joe Perske says he's also a pro-life candidate.

I am a pro-life candidate.  Also, I am strong on second amendment rights.  I started hunting when my brother came home from the Vietnam War.  I want to protect our hunting heritage.

Perske says, while party control may be important for some, party politics is not what it is about for him.

It is just so frustrating for me having come from the commissioner base, the council base and mayor base that we should be focusing on the people.  I have no trouble, if the solutions are coming from the Republicans let's use that solution.

Meanwhile, Republican Representative Jeff Howe says he wants to continue to work on getting more money for transportation.

That's been a priority of mine while we've been down there.  We need to get stable funding for transportation so we can get good planning and get good infrastructure of transportation.

Howe says they've already started to see some outside money being spent on the race, including some negative ads against his opponent.

That wasn't me, that wasn't my campaign, I've got no control over that.  People don't understand when that outside money comes in we don't have any say on how it's spent and what they're doing with it.

Meanwhile, Perske says he wants the race to stay focused on the issues.

Jeff's a good man.  We've worked together as he's been down at the legislature and I've been on the county as a commissioner.  I'm not running against Jeff I'm running for Joe Perske.

As for how the candidates feel about the Gubernatorial candidates, Perske says he hasn't paid enough attention to have an opinion on fellow Democrat Tim Walz, and Howe says he was backing former Governor Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Fischbach, but now supports Republican Jeff Johnson.

Howe is a former Rockville city council member and is currently a State Representative.  Perske is a former Sartell Mayor and is currently a Stearns County Commissioner.

Senate District 13 includes the communities Paynesville, Richmond, Cold Spring, Kimball, Avon, St. Joseph, Holdingford, St. Stephen, Sartell and Sauk Rapids.

Whichever man wins will fill out the remainder of Fischbach's term, which means they'll have to run again in just two years from now.

The general election is coming up on November 6th.


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