MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The first real high profile entrance in the Republican race to retain the vital 6th Congressional District is anticipated Wednesday as former legislator Tom Emmer is expected to throw his hat into the ring.

Even if Jim Graves had stayed in the contest, Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey said he had and has every confidence that the GOP will retain the 6th district.

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“We have a lot of talent, a very deep bench, a lot of energy. It’s a great district in some ways a prototypical Minnesota district that represents the people of our state really well, so I think it is a great fit for republicans,” Downey says.

He’s not ready to throw his full support behind former lawmaker turned radio host Tom Emmer, but said Emmer’s near successful bid for Governor does give him a leg up.

“Tom Emmer would obviously be the one with the highest name recognition to enter the race, but we’ll until the entire field is fully known and see how it all plays out,” said Downey, who insists that right now keeping the seat Republican is the main focus.

No matter the candidate, Downey said Republicans need a strong national and state voice to stem the tide of unsustainable government.

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“A state that grows government and raises taxes, unionizes entire industries, that is just absolutely the wrong signal to be sending to people both in the state and out of the state,” said Downey, who gives the impression that for the time being the message outranks the messenger.

“We have to think about how to create a sustainable future and a huge government that taxes its citizens overly so is just not the right formula,” said Downey.

The top Republican power broker in Minnesota still believes Michele Bachmann could have retained her seat against Jim Graves, but has even more confidence in the current crop of GOP hopefuls.

“I liked our chances whether it was an incumbent running against Mr. Graves or whether it’s a new Republican. I think it is a strong district for us and if we do our work, we should hold that seat,” Downey said.

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Emmer is expected to make his announcement Wednesday night in his hometown of Delano.