Gun-toting cowboy sparks showdown with Harvard man for area State Senate seat

By Louis Hoglund

A gun-toting Christian hobby farmer from the Battle Lake area has jumped into politics—and will be seeking the Republican endorsement. 

Nathan Miller

Nathan Miller is the second to enter the race for the new State Senate District 9. 

He is up against fellow Republican Jordan Rasmusson, a one-term State House Representative from Fergus Falls, who stepped up to run for State Senate. The district spans from the South Dakota border and Wheaton to Pelican Rapids, Perham, and the Ottertail-Battle Lake area. 

An intriguing contrast it is, between this pair of Republicans:

• Rasmusson, multi-generation West Otter Tail County resident, from a  small business family—and a Harvard graduate with a scholarly, academic resume. 

Miller, a self-proclaimed “blue collar” guy with cowboy hat and western shirt, who is “fed up” with “fear-mongering” liberals and “their favorite allies, weak Republicans.”  

Jordan Rasmusson

Adding yet more “theatrical color” to the State Senate 9 election storyline is the Democrat’s announced candidate: Cornell Walker. A U.S. Army veteran, Walker comes from cowboy country, Texas, where he spent most of his career as an attorney. 

Miller was the subject of a “Meet and Greet” at Thumper Pond in Ottertail city April 9. The event, organized by “Caravan for Patriots,” also featured a Secretary of State candidate debate.  

The operations manager and boiler operator, father of three, and 40-acre farmer leaves little doubt where he stands on his website, stating “I am not a politician…instead a patriot.”

“Since the July 2020 decree came down from our petty tyrant (Gov. Tim) Walz I have continued to live free of masking in Minnesota,” wrote Miller. “Instead, I choose to wear my own personal protective equipment…not an N95 (mask) but an XDM 9mm (firearm), compliments of the second amendment, just about everywhere I go.” 

Endorsement convention for area Republicans April 23

Republicans will gather April 23 for the Senate District 9 endorsement convention, where they will either endorse—or let the race run its course, which would set up a primary election between the two. 

“I believe it’s time to deliver a “constitutional conservative from “rock and cow” country to the capital in order to restore a semblance of common sense, true constituent representation, and godly conviction.”​

“The time has come for we the people to be liberated from our slumber; to be free of the establishment, and to start a revival of mind, heart and soul in St. Paul,” wrote Miller. “I want to help by championing life (from conception), liberty and the pursuit of happiness in order to resurrect our state from what the Walz administration has been destroying over the past two years.”

Patriot group hopes to book Miller, Rasmusson debate

“Caravan of Patriots” spokesperson Merle Hexum said that a debate between Rasmusson and Miller was in the works. As yet, Rasmusson has not been able to schedule a one-on-one with Miller. 

Employed in the power and energy industry since attending college in Bismarck, North Dakota, Miller graduated in 2006. He has been an operations manager in different energy facilities in the state, and he describes himself as “blue collar to the core.” He still holds his trade boilers license and works in boiler rooms around Minnesota. 

He and his wife Anna both operate small businesses, he notes on his website, and they raise three children at their home and property south of Battle Lake. 

“I will hold the bureaucrats accountable, help drive out tyranny, and stand firm for all that we hold dear in Western Minnesota,” pledged Miller in campaign statements. “I will not work for a party, lobby or anti–American agenda; I will be a voice for grassroots, working for you the people.”

Three Republicans jockeying  for 9B  State House seat

There’s another Republican showdown in the new State House District 9B, which spans the lakes area from Lake Lida to the Perham lakes and rural area. 

Three candidates are seeking the Republican endorsement:

•  Joan Johnson Gedde, Battle Lake, has announced. She has been a nursing home administrator,  and serves on both the Lake Region Healthcare Foundation Board and the Mill Street Residence Board. Raised on a small family farm and educated at Henning High School and the University of Minnesota, she returned to Otter Tail County to work in community health care. 

• Businessman Tom Murphy threw his hat in the ring for  District 9B, which includes parts of  Douglas and Otter Tail Counties. Murphy is the owner of MinStart Ag Products, and previously owned a dairy supply sales business. He is a township officer in Maine Township, and serves on the Board of Directors for Park Region Telephone Company.

Ben Anderson, was the first to announce as a Republican candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 9B. He also lives in Maine Township. He is a former administrator of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has held a number of Republican positions locally and at the state level—including as District director for Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach.  

Democratic candidate is transplanted Texan

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, Democrats have an equally interesting candidate. 

A Texan with a Rio Grande accent, Cornell Walker, will be running for the State Senate 9 seat. Presumably, he will face either Rasmusson or Miller.  

Army veteran Walker spent most of his career as an attorney in Texas, but relocated to the  Fergus Falls area in 2017 with his wife Jane—whose family still farms in rural Western Township. 

Walker’s age has not been publicized, but he is approximately as old as the combined age of Republicans Rasmusson and Miller.

House Districts 9A and 9B combine to comprise Senate District 9.

The new State House Districts carve up Otter Tail County, pushing a large share of the lakes area to the east, and House District 9B.
Meanwhile, Pelican Rapids city will be part of a new configuration—House District 9A, which extends to the Red River Valley and the North Dakota state line.
• The 9A House seat does not include Barnesville, which is just north of the 9A border.  Pelican Rapids is the northernmost city in the new district.
9A follows the North Dakota border, to include Breckenridge and Wheaton to the southwest. 
•  Fergus Falls, Elbow Lake and Hoffman are all part of the new House 9A district, stretching southeast.  
9B House District takes in virtually all of the Otter Tail lakes country, starting at about Lake Lizzie and Lida. 
• Interestingly, a western chunk of Pelican Lake is in 9A, while most of the east part of Pelican Lake is in 9B, basically following the Scambler and Dunn Township line.
• In addition to lakes from Star and Dead to Otter Tail and Battle, House 9B also includes a large expanse of rural and farm land—stretching nearly to Wadena.