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Aug 10th, 2008

Immelman Begins Walking Tour of 6th Congressional District

Immelman_SCT_08-09-08_Schwartz.jpg Immelman_SCTimes_08-09-2008_Schwartz picture by Rifleman-Al
Aubrey Immelman speaks outside Charlie’s Café in Freeport at the start of a walking tour across the 6th Congressional District, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2009. (Photo credit: Dave Schwarz / St. Cloud Times)

By Lawrence Schumacher
St. Cloud Times
August 10, 2008

FREEPORT — Aubrey Immelman removed a two-wheeled tot trailer from his minivan and attached it to a bicycle outside Charlie’s Charlie’s Café on Saturday morning.

He and his four children were about to begin a trek down the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail to St. Joseph. That’s the first leg of a walking tour he said will take him across the length of the 6th Congressional District, which he hopes to represent if he can knock off U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in the Republican primary Sept. 9.

“Symbolically, it shows that I’ve got my feet on the ground in the district,” the 52-year-old College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University professor of political psychology said. “I’m not jetting off to Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico.”

With a campaign sign tied around his neck and several more affixed to the family’s bicycles, Immelman said his walking tour will take him to Stillwater by the end of the week.

He intends to introduce himself and learn more about voters’ concerns.

The first-time candidate will need to make lots of friends on his walk if he hopes to unseat an incumbent who has raised $2 million so far in her re-election campaign. Bachmann has also become the national face of a Republican congressional push for more domestic oil drilling as the cure for high gas prices.

Bachmann won her party’s uncontested endorsement this spring and is the favorite to win a second term against DFLer Elwyn Tinklenberg and Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson.

But Immelman, who described himself as a “Republican-leaning independent” before filing his candidacy this summer, said he looks forward to the challenge of waging a guerrilla campaign against her.

“She’s a highly divisive candidate,” he said. “She’s a good campaigner and an attractive candidate, but she’s not going to appeal to many independents and Democrats. I believe I can.”

Attempts to contact the Bachmann campaign for comment on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Bachmann is in solid position to be re-elected and Republicans are solidly behind her candidacy, said Gina Countryman, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Minnesota.

“We feel it’s just going to be one of those check-the-box type of primaries,” she said.


A South Africa native who came to America twice as a student before immigrating in 1990 and becoming a U.S. citizen in 1994, Immelman said illegal immigration is a top concern of his campaign.

“I don’t want to be inhumane. I’m not motivated by xenophobia, but it’s a national security issue,” the Sartell resident said. “If they can come in illegally, others can come in too. We need verifiable border security before we do anything else.”

Immelman served in the South African Defense Force and said he gained some experience in counter-terrorism there.

As a professor specializing in psychological portraits of world leaders, he said he has assisted government agencies working on nuclear security issues.

And while he voted for President Bush in 2000 and did not sign a petition circulated among college faculty opposing the Iraq war in 2003, he said he now considers it a major distraction from America’s fight against terrorism.

“The race now is becoming an issue about energy, and it’s important, it has ripple effects all down the line,” he said. “But we can’t allow the price of gas to distract us from the terrorist threat of al-Qaida and the work left to be done in Afghanistan like we did when we invaded Iraq.”

Immelman said he would like to serve on the House Intelligence Committee, if elected.

Long shot

Immelman didn’t try to seek the Republican endorsement against Bachmann at the 6th Congressional District convention this spring.

“I’m an old foot soldier and I know which battles are worth fighting and which aren’t,” he said.

His support for DFL congressional candidate and St. Joseph child safety advocate Patty Wetterling in 2004 and 2006 probably won’t make his bid any easier.

It was based on personal connections and a shared interest in finding missing children, Immelman said.

Immelman said he is taking a sabbatical from the classroom and will be able to campaign effectively in the fall if he wins the primary.

If he wins the election, he’ll take an unpaid leave of absence from academia, he said.

If he doesn’t make it past Sept. 9?

“I’ll go back to my academic career,” he said. “I won’t be endorsing anyone for this or any other office.”


Pam and Tim (13) packing up at the St. Joseph trailhead of the Lake Wobegon Trial at the end of our 20-mile trek from Freeport to St. Joe.
Pam and Tim (13) packing up at the St. Joseph trailhead of the Lake Wobegon Trial at the end of our 20-mile trek from Freeport to St. Joe.

Immelman family at the St. Joseph trailhead after 20-mile trek from Freeport along the Lake Wobegon Trail.
Family photo at the trailhead in St. Joseph after our 20-mile swing through Freeport, Albany, Avon, and St. Joe along the Lake Wobegon Trail. From left to right: Pam, Tim (13), Elizabeth (9), Matt (11), Paddy (2), and Aubrey Immelman.

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