Hegseth to sit out 2014 election

FL native, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate to focus on family, advocating for veterans


Pete Hegseth
Pete Hegseth

Clint Riese
News Editor

Duties on the home front will keep Pete Hegseth from running for office in 2014, a fact with which the Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran is perfectly fine.

Hegseth sought the Republican endorsement to run against U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. The bid ultimately went to Kurt Bills and the election to the incumbent Klobuchar.

On Tuesday, Hegseth told the Forest Lake Times that he plans to sit out the next election cycle.

The Forest Lake native attributed his decision to a desire to enjoy time with his family, which includes wife Samantha, and two young boys, Gunner and Boone. Hegseth last month finished his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the family recently moved to Marine on St. Croix.

“After running last time and unpacking duffle bags from Afghanistan and running for U.S. Senate, my wife and I both said, ‘Hey, we’re not doing this again when it feels hasty or we’re unpacking boxes and don’t even know our next-door neighbor.”

The 33-year-old said he and his wife have moved six times in four years, not counting his Minnesota National Guard deployment in 2011.

“We want to be able to invest in community and spend time with family, all the things we haven’t been able to do while running around the country and the world,” he said.

The Hegseths were just about to move into their new house in Marine when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann announced she would not seek re-election. Hegseth admits the 6th District vacancy tugged at him the most of any potential seats.

“I just looked at my wife and said, ‘It couldn’t be worse timing,’” he said.

Hegseth is also only a year into his role as CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, an organization that advocates federal policy changes and communicates with and educates veterans. Hegseth, the former executive director of Vets for Freedom, calls his new employer the result of a merger between many like-minded advocates for veterans.

The organization is just more than a year old but has grown rapidly, Hegseth said. It focuses on traditional veterans issues, such as the Veterans Affairs claims backlog, but also on fiscal issues like federal spending reform.

A sold-out Concerned Veterans for America event on the national debt, set for Thursday in Washington, D.C., will feature Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a keynote speaker. A bus tour for the organization is planned for October.

Hegseth is a 1999 graduate of Forest Lake High School and a 2003 graduate of Princeton University.

He joined the National Guard in 2003 and served as an infantry platoon leader in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2004. Hegseth later earned several awards for his service with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.