Political Notebook: Nelson focuses on electability

As she seeks to win over Republicans in the 1st Congressional District, Sen. Carla Nelson is touting herself as the most electable candidate.

Nelson is competing with Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn for the party's endorsement. Hagedorn narrowly lost to 1st District Rep. Tim Walz last year.

During an interview, Nelson said she will be making the case to fellow Republicans that she is the candidate best positioned to win the seat.

"It's a huge opportunity for the Republican party. It's not an opportunity we can afford to waste, and we need someone that we know can win in November. Someone that will do more than just talk about what's wrong with Washington, D.C.," the Rochester Republican said.

Referring to Hagedorn as a "perennial candidate," Nelson noted that the Blue Earth Republican has run unsuccessfully for the seat two times in a row. Last year, he lost the election despite Trump winning the district by 15 percentage points.

"I'm the candidate that has the experience. I have a proven record of winning elections in tough districts," she said.

Nelson said she is running for Congress because she is concerned about out-of-control spending and the inability of lawmakers to get things done.

"Now we're seeing the national debt ballooning to $20 billion, robbing our children's futures and probably our grandchildrens' futures," she said.

If elected, she said she would focus on passing pro-growth tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare and national security.

Nelson said she will seek to win the party's endorsement. She stopped short of saying she would abide by the endorsement process at this time, noting that Hagedorn said he would abide in 2014 but changed his mind after losing the endorsement to Aaron Miller. Hagedorn won the primary and lost to Walz in the general election.

"I will pledge to work for that endorsement just as I always have and always have abided by the endorsement. This is a peculiar situation because we have a perennial candidate who said he would abide by the endorsement and then he did not," she said.