"I have been contacted by numerous people to run, so I am seriously weighing the options," Howe said in an interview.
Earlier this month, Republican 2nd District Rep. John Kline announced he would not run for an eighth term. Several candidates have said they are interested in running, including Mazeppa Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski. But in recent days, some high-profile Republicans have passed on a run. They include former First Lady Mary Pawlenty, 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden and state Sen. Eric Pratt. The Pioneer Press reports that other Republicans mulling a run include former state Sen. Ted Daley and former state Rep. Pam Myhra. Two DFL lawmakers — Rep. Rick Hansen and Rep. Joe Atkins — are also considering getting in the race.
Two Democrats are already running for the seat — former St. Jude Medical executive Angie Craig and doctor Mary Lawrence. Republican David Gerson, a Tea Party favorite, is also running.
The district, which stretches from the southern Twin Cities suburbs to Goodhue and Wabasha counties, is considered to be a swing district. Howe said if he runs, he expects he would have to raise a lot of money.
"It's going to take a huge financial and personal commitment to make it work," he said.
Howe served as Red Wing mayor for two years before being elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2010. He lost his re-election bid in 2012 to DFL Sen. Matt Schmit. In 2014, he ran for secretary of state but dropped out after failing to get the Republican Party's endorsement.
Howe owns several rental properties and has partnered on establishing some Sears stores. He said he sees himself as a political outsider.
"I am not one of the good old boys," he said. "I do have some (political) experience, but I'm not a political insider. And I think in this environment people don't want a political insider," he said.
He said he believes his background as a businessman and fiscal conservative would serve him well in the race.
"One of the huge things we need to work on in our country is our deficit. That is holding us back from so many things — whether it's national security or the economy. Our deficit is a huge liability for our country," he said.
Howe said he plans to make his decision by early next week.
"Obviously I've reached out to people, and we're exploring it. I've got several people who are willing to be on the team," he said. "But again, it is going to take a huge commitment."