U student runs for state Legislature

Political science junior Ole Hovde is running against Phyllis Kahn.

Ole Hovde doesn’t have flashy commercials or celebrity endorsements, yet he’s beginning his campaign for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, District 59B, nonetheless.

The position has been held by Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, since 1972. Students have run against her in the past, but with little success – they always lost by at least 60 percent of the vote.

“I’m proud to run on my record,” Kahn said. “I’m proud to run on what I’ve done for the community and what I’ve done for the state and I will continue to do that.”

While Kahn holds a bachelor’s in physics from Cornell, a master’s in public administration from Harvard, a doctorate in biophysics from Yale, Hovde has not yet graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree.

“Before I ran in the Legislature, I really had a pretty good record of community activism and professional activism,” Kahn said.

A political science junior and C-SPAN junkie, Hovde said he would learn quickly as a freshman legislator.

“Give me two months (at the Capitol) and I’ll show you I have the experience,” he said.

As a former University student who ran against Kahn in 2004, Amanda Elo has some unique perspective to shed on the matter.

“He better be pretty moderate to run in that district,” Elo said of Hovde. “Hardcore party lines aren’t going to fly unless you can market yourself to a moderate population.”

Hovde said while he’s running for the GOP, he’s hoping to cross the political barriers and work for both the left and the right.

“I may have an ‘R’ behind my name,” Hovde said, “but I want to work for the students and not the Republicans.”

If Hovde runs as a Republican, Kahn said, voters may compare him to other politicians with conservative stances, such as U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and President George W. Bush, regardless of his beliefs.

Although he’s not endorsing any presidential candidate or party, Hovde said he respects Barack Obama.

“Obama is one of the most fascinating candidates,” he said. “I would model my campaign after him.”

Hovde has just begun fundraising and putting together his own campaign. He said he’ll stand out on street corners in Dinkytown and talk to students to get them involved.

Hovde said the top issues he wants to focus on are lowering both crime rates on campus and tuition costs.

He encourages students to approach him on the street, he said, or shoot him an e-mail expressing political thoughts or even just to share a joke.

“I always have a good time,” he said, laughing. “I don’t take things too seriously.”

When not working – he owns a window-cleaning business – or talking on his cell phone, Hovde takes part in true Minnesota past times: hockey and golf.

Ed Loiselle, Hovde’s high school hockey coach and mentor, said Hovde has always been driven to do something good.

“It’d be great to see one of my former students giving back to society,” he said.

Elo said she lost against Kahn because she didn’t compromise her principles in order to appeal to a variety of people, adding that Kahn was a very tough opponent.

Overall, she said the experience was a positive one and she stands by everything she said and did.

“I wish him luck,” Elo said. “I hope students continue to run against Kahn. It’s always good to change things up and she’s been in office a long time.”