Birthdate: May 14, 1965
Birth Place: Bakersfield, CA, United States
Residence: Eden Prairie, MN
First Elected: 2008
District: District 3
Erik Paulsen was born in Bakersfield, Calif., and grew up in Chanhassen, Minn. He now lives in Eden Prairie. He earned a bachelor's in mathematics from St. Olaf College.
Paulsen went into business and worked as an analyst at Minneapolis-based Target Corp.
He served seven terms in the Minnesota House, including a stint as Republican Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007.
He previously was a legislative assistant and district director for U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, whose seat he won when Ramstad retired. Paulsen was elected to the U.S. House in 2008.
He and his wife, Kelly, have four daughters.
Erik Paulsen started his career in politics in the early 1990s working for U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, a popular moderate Republican. Years later, when Ramstad decided to retire in 2007, Paulsen was ready to step up.
Paulsen served seven terms in the Minnesota House, succeeding Tim Pawlenty as majority leader when Pawlenty became governor. Paulsen led the GOP majority from 2003 until Democrats won control of the chamber in the 2006 election. The next year, Paulsen began his run for Congress.
Paulsen faced a bruising campaign against Democrat Ashwin Madia as national groups targeted the 2008 race as a potential pickup for Democrats. In the end, Paulsen won handily in a district that Republicans have held for decades.
Minnesota's 3rd District covers a collection of western Minneapolis suburbs, some affluent, and is considered socially moderate and fiscally conservative. Congressional redistricting after the 2010 census added several Republican-leaning areas to the district, making it potentially harder for Democrats to unseat a Republican incumbent.
Paulsen worked mainly behind the scenes during his first term in the U.S. House, leaving the spotlight to Minnesota colleagues like Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, and Rep. John Kline, the ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee.
He instead focused on financial issues, serving in his first term on the Financial Services Committee. Like Kline and Bachmann, Paulsen voted against the approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package in 2009, the health care reform bill in 2010 and climate change legislation.
After winning re-election in 2010, Paulsen left the Financial Services Committee for a seat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, the House's chief tax-writing committee.
Paulsen paid special attention to the medical devices industry, which employs thousands of Minnesotans, and he served as co-chairman of the House Medical Technology Caucus.
Early in Paulsen's first term, he and other members of the state's congressional delegation helped persuade President Barack Obama's administration to extend refugee status for about 3,600 Liberians in the United States, including about 1,000 in Minnesota.
In 2012, Paulsen took the rare step of criticizing a fellow Minnesota Republican member of Congress after Bachmann accused an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Paulsen called those comments "not appropriate" and "not accurate."
Running in 2012 for a fourth term in Congress, Paulsen faces Democrat Brian Barnes, an Edina businessman.
Source: Associated Press