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Knock, knock, knocking on voters' doors an art

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. -- Paul Marquart has door-knocking down to an art. He never walks on grass if a sidewalk is available. He stays only as long as whoever answers the door wants him to. He doesn't ask for names. Marquart, a DFL state representat...

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. -- Paul Marquart has door-knocking down to an art.

He never walks on grass if a sidewalk is available.

He stays only as long as whoever answers the door wants him to.

He doesn't ask for names.

Marquart, a DFL state representative from Dilworth, has visited most of the 15,000 homes in his district five times since first running for the office in 2000.

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"It helps me be a better legislator," Marquart said. "I think it builds trust."

A recent afternoon in Breckenridge showed that of the residents home, most knew him and many remembered earlier visits.

While most legislators and candidates knock on doors around their districts in election years, Marquart probably is Minnesota's most dedicated. He knocks in nonelection years, as well as when he is campaigning.

Marquart doesn't knock on every door in nonelection years. He stops at some farms, but does much of his talking to farmers at county fairs. Still, he expects to put in 300 hours walking city streets this year, compared with nearly 500 in an election year.

So far, he has stopped by nearly every home in Hawley and Sabin, about 90 percent of Detroit Lakes and Barnesville, about half of Breckenridge and about 10 percent of Dilworth. He was mayor in Dilworth and the first mayoral candidate to knock on doors there.

He is not a high-pressure type of lawmaker.

"Hi, I'm state Rep. Paul Marquart," he tells people answering his knock.

After handing his constituent a brochure telling a little about him and the last legislative session, he points to a telephone number. "If anything ever comes up, call."

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He doesn't want to overstay his welcome.

"I'm at the door as long as they want me there," he said. "I'm infringing on people's time."

On the frequent occasion when no one is home, Marquart jots a quick personal note. Often, he refers to a visit on an earlier door-knocking effort.

Wearing a denim shirt emblazoned with "House of Representatives," Marquart beamed when talking about meeting constituents.

"Without a doubt, this is the most enjoyable thing I do," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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