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After months of exploring a bid for Minnesota’s sprawling Seventh Congressional District, Montevideo resident and Dawson native Kevin Winge filed his candidacy’s paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on January 27.

While earlier articles reported that Winge would run as an Independence Party man, his paperwork list “Independent.”

Whatever the case, Winge boasts an impressive resume .His LinkedIn profile reveals a fascinating career. He’s probably best known in Minnesota for his transformation of Open Arms Minnesota across 12 years. The group’s 2011 annual report notes:

In 2011, our executive director Kevin Winge resigned from his post to head up a similar organization in San Francisco, California. While we were happy for him, we were also sad to say goodbye to a dynamic leader and friend. For 12 years, Kevin inspired, challenged, encouraged and, yes, hugged us. To know Kevin was to be inspired by Open Arms — and to get involved. When he joined us, Open Arms cooked and delivered meals for 100 people living with HIV/AIDS on a $300,000 budget. Today, our budget exceeds $3 million: We have our own garden, an international program, and each week we serve 750 people living with HIV/AIDS, MS, ALS, cancer and 60 other diseases here in Minnesota.

That’s an impressive accomplishment, and it illustrates Winge’s optimistic and civil nature. The experience would also prove helpful as a Republican congress debates health care costs.

The Hutchinson Leader reported in Independent considers run against Peterson:

Kevin “Bird” Winge is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for Rep. Collin Peterson’s seat in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District in 2016.

Winge is a former leader of nonprofit corporations that provide meals to seniors and the critically ill, and this would be his first campaign.

Winge said he has decided to explore a run for office because of the polarization of the political system.

“Too many politicians are more concerned about special interest groups and reelections than they are about the future of our country,” he said in a press release. “The vitriolic language, the use of social issues to divide us, and the inability to balance budgets has to stop. Civility and compromise must return to government. Our energies must be concentrated on creating the nation we need to be a generation from now.”

Winge has spent time touring the district this fall, and expects to make a decision by the end of the year. . . .

Winge grew up in a farm outside Dawson and is a Montevideo resident. He has a bachelors in political science from the University of Minnesota and has a masters degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Winge joins self-published e-author and former Assemblies of God volunteer missionary Amanda Hinson in challenging conservative Blue Dog Democrat Collin Peterson, who has held the seat since 1990. We looked at Hinson in Collin Peterson compares self to Donald & Bernie; GOP candidate files, food fight forecast. On her campaign blog, Hinson wrote that federal oversight of school lunches was one of the things that prompted her bid.

Can an Independence Party candidate make a dent in Peterson’s popularity? Statewide IP candidates didn’t fare well in the district in 2014. Adam Steele was on the congressional ballot in 2012 with Peterson and Republican Lee Byberg, garnering 4.67 percent of the vote.

Photo: Kevin Winge’s (left) 2013 wedding, officiated by R.T. Rybak (center).

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