There are two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot for Minnesota this year, thanks to the resignation of Al Franken.
Incumbent Amy Klobuchar is up for reelection and is facing state representative Jim Newberger (and Green Party candidate Paula Overby, whom I’d ignore except she served as a spoiler in the Second Congressional race in 2016).
Governor Mark Dayton appointed his Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill Franken’s seat, so Smith is sort of the incumbent. She’s facing state Senator Karin Housley to see who will fill the remaining two years in Franken’s term (so yeah, we have to do it again in 2020). (And careful with your Googling, there’s a fake “KarenHousleymn.com” site that’s an anti-Housley site—it’s an obvious [slogan: “Unprepared, uninterested on the issues that matter,”] but kinda dirty trick paid for by Smith’s campaign.)
In some ways these races are very much split down the party lines. But there are some issues that stood out to me.
Klobuchar vs. Newberger
Reading through the issues page on Newberger’s site makes me a little sick. It’s written like it’s still 2016 and he’s campaigning against Obama. He keeps declaring, “MAGA!”, but leaves out what Trump has accomplished (or messed up) in the two years since 2016.
- Healthcare: He rails against the “misery we endured because of Obamacare,” failing to consider the popularity of protections for pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26. He talks about freeing up health care markets to “get back on to the path of becoming the greatest healthcare providing nation in the world.” According to pretty much every measure, we haven’t been on that path. Yes, we need to fix healthcare, but I don’t hear any real solutions here.
- National debt: He pledges to “eliminate” the national debt: “We must do whatever it takes to accomplish this. We can do it! MAGA!” Then how come the GOP tax cuts just piled a trillion dollars onto the debt?
- Social Security: “Every working American deserves to have their futures protected. MAGA!” Then why is Mitch McConnell talking about cutting Social Security to deal with the deficit?
- Taxes: “As your next U.S. Senator, I will work to reduce our taxes, simplify the code and reign in the IRS.” Isn’t that what the GOP tax bill was supposed to do?
- Refugees: Watch for the racist, Islamophobic dog whistle on this one: “Our Refugee Resettlement Program has become a fast track citizenship program for hundreds of thousands of people who are poorly vetted and do not have any intention of adopting American Law. There is only one thing that makes us Americans. It’s that we all agree to live under the same law, i.e. the Constitution. Once we lose that, we lose our country.”
- Farming: “Ask any farmer what causes them the greatest stress? Most will tell you it’s the unpredictable, over powered bureaucracies.” Like Trump’s tariffs that are hurting farmers worst of all?
- Environment: He thinks climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made: “The number one factor in climate change is the sun, and we cannot change the way the sun operates.” Ug.
Newberger is in lockstep with Trump, right down to the childish name calling.
Klobuchar, on the other hand, has made me proud:
- Trump: Might as well start there. “You need someone that can find common ground but is also willing to be a check and balance on this administration.” (Source)
- Respect: “There is no place in our country for this type of violence or hate – we must lead by example and treat each other with respect.” (Source)
- Protecting Democracy: One simple thing we can do is more transparency in social media: “Adversaries are manipulating social media to turn us against each other. We need to pass the Honest Ads Act & get Americans the transparency they deserve.” (Source)
- Environment: “The facts and science couldn’t be clearer. The UN’s report details devastating consequences, coming much sooner than expected, and they’re a real threat to Minnesota. Inaction is not an option.” (Source)
- Gun Safety: “No one policy will prevent every tragedy, but we need to come together on commonsense legislation to save lives.” (Source)
I could go on and on with issues, by I’m pretty happy with Klobuchar.
Housley vs. Smith
- Trump: Housley talked about being a “rubber stamp” for Trump. Really? I think we need a Congress that’s going to be a check on Trump. I like Tina Smith on this issue, talking about Trump’s visit to Minnesota: “Hope he doesn’t get too comfortable. We may be ‘nice’ in Minnesota but when people like him attack us and our values, we rise up, we fight hard, and we don’t back down.” (Source)
- Respect: Social media doesn’t seem to be Housley’s cup of tea. There have been a number of problematic comments over the years, from comparing Michelle Obama to a chimp to commenting on Hillary Clinton’s weight.
- #MeToo: As someone who has wrestled with the Ellison allegations, I take it pretty seriously. I take comparisons to Kavanaugh and potential hypocrisy seriously as well. Housley doesn’t.
- Taxes: Housley likes the GOP tax cuts: “With employees benefiting from higher wages and bonuses, the tax cuts are working as intended.” I’m not so sure about that. Smith argues that wages have the same value today as they did 40 years ago.
- Women: When it comes to woman, Housley doesn’t think laws can help empower women. Title IX?
- What?: Housley wrote a 2001 book about investing for women that flopped. Dragging up stuff someone wrote 20 years ago is a little iffy, but the book has some weird stuff. She apparently can’t do math and has some weird ideas about relationships. The stuff about manipulating your husband to get his “permission” will inspire feminists everywhere. Paired with her comments about the law not being a place to empower women, that seems worrisome.
- Fake news: Tina Smith nails this one: “When politicians call reporting they don’t like ‘fake news,’ they undermine trust in our civic organizations for their own political gain. We need to find ways to disagree with each other but also stick to the facts.” (Source)
I’ll be honest, I don’t know as much about Tina Smith. I agree with her on the issues and I think she’s doing a fine job. Sometimes that’s what we need in a senator—someone who gets the job one and isn’t making a splash (could I say anything more Minnesotan?).
Housley raises some red flags for me. I prefer a senator that doesn’t have those issues (isn’t that why Franken resigned?).
So I’m voting for Tina Smith.
Vote November 6
I support Klobuchar and Smith. Do your own research and make up your own mind, then go vote on November 6.