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Woodbury man looks to upset Bills in Senate primary

David Carlson doesn't mind bucking the system.

After serving four years as a Marine Corps infantryman, the Woodbury resident said he got his fill of falling in line.

"That's the end of that," the 30-year-old said.

Carlson said it's that spirit that has energized his campaign to defeat state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount. He, Bills and Bob Carney Jr. face off on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in a Republican primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Bills is the Minnesota Republican Party's endorsed candidate, a distinction that offers heavy support from the party. That arrangement leaves few scraps for candidates like Carlson, but that hasn't stopped him from going on the offensive.

This week Carlson launched a series of television ads attacking Bills and his allegiance with former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul. Bills was endorsed by Paul in March 2012.

A native of St. Paul's east side and a University of Minnesota graduate, Carlson said he wrote, arranged and raised the funds for the commercials all on his own.

"I've essentially taken on the Republican establishment by myself," he said.

Carlson entered the race after unsuccessful state-level campaigns for House and Senate.

He said he took time away from politics, concentrating on his business - Blue Diamond Strategies, an executive protection firm - until he felt the pull again this year.

Carlson said he saw how delegates in the Minnesota GOP Party failed to back military veteran candidates like former Rep. Dan Severson in his U.S. Senate bid, so he jumped into the fray.

When Ron Paul supporters gained influence in the Minnesota Republican Party, Carlson said he was told to get over it.

"I'm not getting over it," said Carlson, who served three tours in Iraq with the Marines. "America means too much to me."

Carlson calls himself a "compassionate conservative," noting that he opposes Minnesota's constitutional marriage amendment.

"I'm reasonable," Carlson said, adding that he worked in Gov. Jesse Ventura's citizen outreach division in 2001 and in the Secretary of State's business services division in 2002. "I'm not a party hack."

His top priority is job creation.

A business owner himself, Carlson said he has seen the effects of government roadblocks that impede job creation.

"The market is not freeing up capital for people like me to create jobs," he said.

Carlson said he envisions an economic recovery plan that includes corporations being granted a 90-day tax-free holiday where they would be encouraged to reinvest the money back into small business loans.

"I think that's critical for our nation's economy," he said.

Carlson, who is pursuing his master's degree in security strategies and technologies at the University of Minnesota, named national security as another top priority. He favors a strong national defense and rejects arguments that would decrease defense department funding.

He said Bills' alliance with Paul - who advocates a foreign policy that would scale back the United States' intervention policies - is "dangerously misguided."

Carlson's won't be the only name familiar to some Woodbury voters at the Aug. 14 primary; Woodbury resident Ron Seiford will also be on the Republican ballot, where he will challenge endorsed candidate Tony Hernandez in the 4th Congressional District.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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