Home > Consider This > First Congressional District Debate – 10/13/10

First Congressional District Debate – 10/13/10

NOTE:  If you would rather watch this debate than read about it here, it will be aired on KAAL, the ABC affiliate in Rochester, Minnesota, on Sunday, October 17 at noon.

There have been multiple debates over the past several months among the District 1 Representative Candidates, but this was the first I was able to attend in person. There were oration winners, issue losers, and a crowd of supporters behind each. There were ten questions total, each candidate given respective time to answer, and then 90 seconds for rebuttal. The candidates, and a few highlights are given below in alphabetical order.

Randy Demmer (R):  Minnesota Rep. Demmer spent more time picking a fight with U.S. Rep. Walz than discussing valid answers to issues. When Demmer did manage to answer a question, it was always conditional and seemed a simple, glossy sound bite with no reasonable force behind it. In short, they fell flat. I do not think this reflects the whole of the man, but if I were to judge Demmer on his web site and that debate alone, he would hardly get a vote.

  • Social Security:  Demmer’s points all pointed toward a privatization of Social Security, but when pressed by Walz for a response on Demmer’s plans for SS privatization, Demmer said he would do whatever is best.
  • Education:  Should be localized. Should focus on early childhood education. “Our schools need stability” and not simple reformatting or killing, restructuring and then the re-institution of No Child Left Behind.
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – The repeal or further enforcement of DADT would depend upon a military study, heretofore unknown.
  • Cap and Trade:  Against.
  • Closing:  It’s not about us. It’s about vision and representation.

Lars Johnson (No Party Affiliation):  Mr. Johnson began and ended with the same idea, if it’s not a federal issue, the government should return that power back to the state. He was the only candidate who mentioned the Constitution and provided the ideas to match. He was the only candidate that followed wholesale forum requests by the moderator. He also used the phrase “gee whiz;” not once, but twice. Overall, the soft-spoken Johnson could have been more bullish in making his point on issues, but perhaps it just seemed that way due to the level of Walz-Demmer brouhaha.

  • Jobs:  Individuals need less obstacles in their way so they can create jobs. The government does not know what a company should be doing to be successful in their respective market, nor do they know the wages they should be paying.
  • Iraq/Afghan Wars:  End them now and bring the troops home.
  • Education:  “What is more important, public education or an educated public?” This is not a federal issue. The money that’s being funneled into the Federal Department of Education could be better used if it stayed within Minnesota’s borders.
  • Job as Representative:  “I do not answer to a party. I do not answer to the President. I answer to the people of the first district.”
  • Every decision made as a representative would be first held to the standard, “is this a federal [Constitutional] issue?” Everything not within that realm, Johnson says, should be given back to the states.

Tim Walz (DFL):  Rep. Walz won the oration award hands down. He was polished, his timing was impeccable, and he was ever-ready with a rebuttal when handling Demmer’s assault; he never hesitated. While his oration skill was impressive and he sounded well-intentioned, Walz’s answers always seemed to spell out more government control and higher taxes. He agreed with Candidate Wilson too often, and at one point jokingly offered him a job. Still, he stole the show overall. I’m sure that will win him some votes.

  • Social Security:  This is a safety net that requires no change, but can be repaired as needed. Congress must act to save this program.
  • Health Care:  We should pay up front when care is cheapest, rather than on an as-needed basis, when it’s most expensive.
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:  Yes, it should be repealed.
  • Supports Cap and Trade.
  • Closing Statement:  Work to export things – not jobs.

Steven Wilson (Independence Party):  Mr. Wilson was not short on facts, not lacking in answers, and mentioned often how he is a nice guy. He had his web site PDFs at the ready for anyone who had questions about his positions. He was quick to jump in the fray amongst Walz and Demmer to offer his view, though his hand holding with Walz on most issues only further muddled his Independence from the DFL. Perhaps he should take Walz’s job offer. Did I mention he’s a nice guy?

  • When ranking the importance of what he would tackle day one, given these three choices, he chose the following order:  deficit, jobs, and Social Security.
  • Education:  Create an endowment fund for public schools that would create “a third option” for needed monies.
  • Against Cap and Trade.
  • Called Social Security a self-funded system.
  • Against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
  • Closing Statement:  I’m a nice guy.

I knew going to this debate would solidify my vote. I decided years ago that my representation in Washington D.C. should be one that answers the needs of my district, and not party politics, special interests, nor career politicians. There is little doubt that Lars Johnson will get my vote on November 2, and I think you should give him an honest review before you wholly decide. I would highly encourage everyone to watch the broadcast of the debate on Sunday, review the candidates websites, and educate yourself on the issues before you vote.

Thanks for reading,


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