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Candidate Q&A: 2nd Congressional District

Four Republicans hope to succeed longtime GOP Congressman John Kline, but first they need to get through the Aug. 9 primary and then take on Democrat Angie Craig and Independent Paula Overby Nov. 8.

Jason Lewis, conservative radio talk show host, won the 2nd District GOP endorsement. John Howe, the only one to have held elected office, recently gained both the NRA’s and the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s endorsement. Businesswoman Darlene Miller, however, early on received Kline’s blessing.

All three answered questioned posed by RiverTown Multimedia.

Matthew D. Erickson, 29, of the Cottage Grove area and a military veteran, did not respond. He is a sales consultant and owner/founder of Minnesota Snow Angels, according to his campaign website.

The 2nd District comprises all of Scott, Dakota, Goodhue and Wabasha counties, northeastern Rice County including Northfield and southern Washington County including Cottage Grove.

John Howe

What sets you apart from the other GOP candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. John Kline?

The only candidate with legislative experience, both as mayor and state senator. Also, the only candidate with a plan to address the U.S. $19 trillion debt.

The United States Congressional seat is a two-year term. We need someone who understands the system and take immediate action to address our nation’s debt.

I passed several laws that improve citizen’s right to life and liberty, one such law was the “yellow flashing arrow,” which allows left hand turns at stoplights if no one is coming the other direction.

How would you work in bipartisan fashion with Democrats to ensure the federal government works more smoothly?

As the only candidate with any legislative record, I work in a bipartisan fashion. Simply put, it’s our country over politics. We must get special interest money out of our political system.

I am proud to have a record of action. I have a passion to solve our national debt and believe we must work together to revamp our tax code. We need to make it simpler, straight forward and examine every tax expenditure to ensure they are fiscally responsible.

Campaign finance reform is also needed to ensure everyday Americans have a voice in our government, special interest money is corrupting how the legislative process works.

Law enforcement is under tremendous pressure. What is Congress’ role in this public debate?

It must be understood “police powers” are functions of the states.

However, the federal government needs to provide resources for local and state agencies when the need arises. Especially as it relates to potential terrorist attacks. Congress needs to ensure that laws apply equally to all under like circumstance.

Personally, I advocate for police to wear body cameras which would benefit both officers and citizens.

As a former corrections officer and caseworker, I understand the immediate need to address mental illness in our society.

How do you intend to meet the needs of District 2 residents?

I believe most of Washington, D.C., is out of touch with main street America. In fact, I am the only candidate with my name in the local phone book.

If you cannot reach a person as a candidate, how do you expect to get a hold of them as a congressman?

I am accessible, my children attend the local public school system and I am involved in our community.

I will work hard to ensure that you have a voice in Washington. You may reach me at 651-278-4693 or at, I ask for your vote on Aug. 9.

Darlene Miller

What sets you apart from the other GOP candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. John Kline?

I have the real world experience and conservative values that can make a real difference in Congress for Minnesotans. That is why Congressman Kline has endorsed me in this race. As the CEO of a precision manufacturing company in Burnsville, I have created jobs, met a payroll and balanced a budget. Others talk about these things, I’ve done them.

I am the only candidate also focused on combating Islamic terrorism. The threat the U.S. and our allies face is real. From San Bernardino to Orlando, to the almost daily attacks in Europe, this is the major national security challenge to America. The problem is not only ISIS but also Iran. Iran received $100 billion from the nuclear deal badly negotiated by President Barack Obama and supported by my opponents Angie Craig and Jason Lewis. This money is financing more international Islamic terrorism.

How would you work in bipartisan fashion with Democrats to ensure the federal government works more smoothly?

I have a history of bringing people together to support smart conservative free enterprise policies. I created, with the help of others, Right Skills Now – a job training program that is teaching people the skills needed to acquire good paying jobs and get off of government assistance. This program is now replicated in eight states.

People want results. While other candidates talk, I’ve made a difference without being elected to office. As a CEO I know how to bring people together to sharpen budget priorities. I have led people to focus on these priorities and not waste money you can’t afford. In Congress, I would lead people in a similar way.

Another area I plan to focus on is mental health reform. The system we have does not adequately help families in crisis.

Law enforcement is under tremendous pressure. What is Congress’ role in this public debate?

Law enforcement is primarily a local issue not a federal issue. But as a community leader I would be outspoken in the need to support the police in their difficult task. Some police departments need better training for their officers so they can preserve the trust of their community. We have all witnessed tragedies of attacks on police and police seemingly acting with excessive force.

At the Federal level, the FBI needs to be commended for its vigilance against Islamic terrorism. They are not perfect but the recent arrest of suspect ISIS terrorists plot in Florida is a success that should not go un-noticed.

Lastly some, like my opponent Jason Lewis, have suggested legalizing drugs like heroin. I think this is a horrific idea and would oppose it.

How do you intend to meet the needs of District 2 residents?

The number one need we have in Minnesota is more and better paying jobs. Unlike every other candidate, I know what it takes to create jobs. I’ve proven it. I know how regulations and the overly complex tax code has stifled new business start-ups.

We are at the lowest level of new business start-ups in history and this is having a chilling effect on job creation.

The federal government needs to peel back unnecessary regulations and reform our tax code. Our complex tax code favors large corporations and puts small businesses and individuals at a disadvantage. This must be fixed to get our economy growing to create the good paying jobs that support the middle-class families in the 2nd District.

Jason Lewis

What sets you apart from the other GOP candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. John Kline?

My experience in a small, family-owned company as well as a nationally syndicated broadcaster, author and speaker analyzing the most complex of public policy issues uniquely prepares me to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Growing up in a family business taught valuable lessons about meeting payrolls, making ends meet and the joys and headaches of operating a small business.

My mother was born and raised in North Minneapolis and we spent childhood summers “‘at the lake” so when I had the opportunity to return full time to Minnesota in the early 1990s, I did. My wife is a St. Paul native and we have enjoyed raising our kids here.

Knowing the state, understanding the private sector as well as the public, and talking to hard-working citizens every day for the better part of two and half decades, I believe, gives me the background necessary to be an effective representative for Minnesota’s 2nd District.

How would you work in bipartisan fashion with Democrats to ensure the federal government works more smoothly?

Citizens in 2016 are looking for outsiders with the experience and willingness to take on the status quo of both parties. They want an independent voice who’s willing to reach across the aisle on issues of mutual interest but one who’s also willing to stand up to a entrenched interests when necessary. Especially as it pertains to tax reform and across the board spending restraint.

But there are other important areas of cooperation as well. For instance, bipartisan congressional action (Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act or CARA) on the troubling opioid epidemic is now moving swiftly through both houses of Congress by overwhelming margins and it’s something I would support.

In my broadcasting career, I worked with politicians of all stripes, including the late Sen. Paul Wellstone and Rod Grams — both of whom were frequent fill-in hosts — and I look forward to doing so in Washington.

Law enforcement is under tremendous pressure. What is Congress’ role in this public debate?

My wife was a St. Paul police officer for seven years (and her father a retired police officer) so I am keenly aware of the day-to-day pressures facing law enforcement — not the least of which includes split-second life and death decisions. I do not think it’s appropriate for those who have little understanding of such situations to second-guess the actions of police officers. Nor do I believe — given tragic recent attacks on law enforcement — now is the time for anyone to inject race into elections for political expediency.

I also believe in criminal justice reform and support bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Reps. James Sensenbrenner and Bobby Scott. The Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective Justice Act seeks to streamline our federal justice system focusing on high risk offenders and making certain federal over-criminalization doesn’t ensnare entire communities. Since 1980, the federal government has added an estimated 2000 new “crimes” to the books and some federal statutes don’t even require a defendant’s knowledge of wrongdoing — or criminal intent. All the while far too many violent and career criminals still escape swift and certain punishment.

In short, Congress should assist local agencies in making certain that “equal application of the law” as well as the unequivocal support of law enforcement combine to afford every community the safety and security it deserves.

How do you intend to meet the needs of District 2 residents?

First and foremost, by listening to them. My campaign, as well as my radio career, has brought me into contact with thousands of 2nd District citizens over the better part of two decades. We’ve talked about the problems and we’ve talked about solutions ,so I understand the economic pressures families still face in this subpar recovery which has yet to hit 3 percent growth — a post World War II low.

I understand the burden of a far too complicated and unfair tax code with loopholes for the politically powerful. And as someone who’s been purchasing private insurance for my family, I am keenly aware of Obamacare’s devastating effects on family finances and job creation. That’s why I’ve introduced my 5-point Jobs Plan ( that seeks to create real growth not through government directed crony-capitalism, but by restoring capital investment and incentives in the private economy so everyone can prosper.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

(651) 301-7870