ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An open congressional seat once expected to set off a stampede of hopefuls so far hasn't attracted many candidates.

Former Republican state Sen. John Howe announced his campaign for Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District Tuesday. Howe also served as Red Wing mayor and launched a failed bid for secretary of state last year.

He joins just one other Republican in vying for retiring Rep. John Kline's seat while bigger names have taken a pass. Mary Pawlenty, wife of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden previously ruled out runs.

Howe says a tough race for the swing district may be scaring off challengers.

Two Democrats have already launched campaigns. Howe isn't sure if he'll abide by the GOP endorsement in what's now a two-way race with David Gerson.