DFLer emerges to challenge Rep. Myhra in 56A

Dan Kimmel

Dan Kimmel, a devoted runner who frequently circles Burnsville’s Sunset Pond when training for marathons, is now running for office.

The 63-year-old Democrat hopes to unseat Republican state Rep. Pam Myhra in November. Both are from Burnsville.

Kimmel, 63, is seeking the DFL nomination to run against Myhra in House District 56A, which includes four northwest Burnsville precincts and all of Savage.

Kimmel said he’s been embraced by Senate District 56 DFL activists and doesn’t know of anyone else seeking the nomination, which will be decided at the district’s March 15 convention.

“I’m really tickled and head over heels in awe that all these people are wanting me to do this,” Kimmel said.

A 17-year Burnsville resident, Kimmel walks to and from his job in software development at RJS Software Systems in Burnsville. He’s run 62 marathons, and hopes his neighborhood familiarity will boost his chances against a two-term incumbent.

“They all know me as the ‘Good Morning’ runner,” Kimmel said.

He served on the Lockport Township High School Board of Education from 1989 to 1997 while living in Lockport, Ill. In 2002 Kimmel ran as the Green Party candidate in the old House District 40A. He garnered about 450 votes as Republican Dan McElroy of Burnsville was re-elected, according to Kimmel.

“I got involved in Green Party politics when (Ralph) Nader ran (for president) in 2000,” said Kimmel, who has a master of science degree in computer science and has worked as a self-employed computer consultant.

“The Greens got too weird for me” so he switched to the DFL. Kimmel said he worked on the first winning campaign of DFL state Rep. Will Morgan of Burnsville in 2006. Kimmel said he’s attended caucuses and his local DFL Senate district conventions for a number of years.

The economy, college affordability, strengthening public schools and access to health care are top issues, said Kimmel, a grandfather of two whose three daughters graduated from Burnsville High School.

“We need manufacturing, mining, forestry, agriculture and all those things, and that takes some planning — and some long-range planning — and maybe sometimes putting some money into it,” Kimmel said.

Minnesota’s Republican legislators have been “shortsighted” in their approach to government, he said.

“I think the whole withhold-money, try-to-do-small-government, hurts our chances at that productive future,” he said.

Kimmel said he worked on the campaign of Savage DFLer Dave Jensen, who lost to Myhra by four percentage points in 2012.

Myhra, a longtime Burnsville resident and Burnsville High School graduate, was first elected in 2010, unseating Morgan in the old House District 40A. After redistricting, Morgan was elected in 2012 in the new District 56B.