Buford Johnson, a financial adviser who lives in the Pequot Lakes area and works in Baxter, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate over the weekend.
"I believe in short, hard-hitting campaigns," Johnson said.
The 62-year-old Vietnam veteran will challenge Jim Gibson, 47, Edina, in the primary for the Independence Party of Minnesota nomination. Gibson won the endorsement Saturday at the party's convention in St. Paul.
Johnson said he strongly believes primaries keep political parties honest. He said that with his financial planning and military background he can bring more options to the voters.
Johnson resigned from his post as state vice chairman for the Independence Party to become a candidate. He was nominated and addressed the convention but later withdrew his name, stating he would run in the primary. The convention vote was Gibson, 141; Leslie Davis of Minneapolis, 35; and Johnson, 18.
This will be Johnson's second bid for the U.S. Senate. He unsuccessfully challenged Ann Wynia for the DFL nomination in the 1994 primary. In 1968, he was an endorsed DFL candidate for the Sixth District congressional seat, when he lived in St. Cloud.
His major campaign issues will be political reform and health care.
"What's happened, and it's a disaster, is that the two political parties have become drunk on money," Johnson said. "With the campaign reform laws of the 1970s, we legalized bribery."
Johnson said he won't take Political Action Committee money.
"We have the same special interests funding both parties for access to legislators," he said. "I think the average voter knows that. I don't think we need one reform campaign law. What we need are standards."
Johnson said he will accept contributions from individuals and expects it will cost about $60,000 to win the primary and a quarter of a million dollars to win the general election.
Calling for reform of the nation's health care system, Johnson doesn't think anyone should be denied health care. He would also like to see the state more involved in preventive medicine.
A member of Central Lakes College's adjunct faculty, Johnson served 7 1/2 years of active duty in the Army and several more years in the Army Reserve. He and his wife are co-owners of Financial Group of Central Minnesota in Baxter.
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