Two years ago, Minnesota’s Eighth District delivered one of the largest surprises in the nation, when Republican Chip Cravaack upset 18-term DFL incumbent Jim Oberstar. Now voters must decide if Cravaack will be a one-and-done Congressman or if he is worthy of a second term.
While Cravaack ran his 2010 campaign on a shoestring budget and Oberstar did not realize his vulnerability until it was too late, this year the race has been targeted nationally, meaning both candidates are well funded and that outside money has made the campaign nastier than it needs to be.
For most voters, the choice will be easy. Go through the national agendas of both major parties and you will discover that both Cravaack and DFL challenger Rick Nolan support most of their party’s positions. Cravaack is more concerned about the national debt, Nolan is more supportive of the Affordable Care Act, Cravaack is more opposed to reducing military spending, etc.
If you lean DFL, believe that most of the nation’s current troubles can be traced back to the Bush administration or that, under the circumstances, the nation is doing about as well as can be expected but is slowly regaining its footing, then Nolan deserves your support. He has already served three terms in the Congress, albeit in the 1970s in a primarily agricultural district, while the newly redistricted 8th District has not only Twin Cities metro concerns to deal with but timber, mining and shipping issues as well. Nolan knows how Washington works, and his ramp up time would be short.
On the other hand, if you lean GOP, believe the nation is on the wrong track or think that federal spending and regulation need to be reined in, then Cravaack is your guy. He has been more visible throughout the district than Oberstar was during the latter part of his career, and he has tackled tough issues like the PolyMet mining permit process — which has been stymied for eight years — in an effort to create jobs on the economically needy Iron Range.
The ECM Editorial Board interviewed both Cravaack and Nolan, and thinks highly of both candidates, but gives a narrow nod to Cravaack.
We recognize that everyone is frustrated by the slowness of the economic recovery. What we like about Cravaack’s approach is that he sees the need for tax reform, but isn’t willing to raise tax revenue overall in the process. He wants a “simpler, flatter, fairer” tax code, created by closing loopholes. He believes that lowering the corporate tax rate would create incentives for companies who have sent jobs overseas to bring those jobs home.
Make no mistake, Nolan is no slouch when it comes to economic development issues. As a founder, chairman and past president of the Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation, Nolan helped local businesses learn how to export to other nations. Unlike Cravaack’s carrot approach of lower corporate taxes, however, Nolan wants to use the stick of higher tariffs. While tariffs were widely used by governments a century ago, the global economy has been created by gradually lowering them. Tariffs tend to protect some businesses and industries, but drive up costs for all U.S. consumers and make it more likely our businesses won’t make the changes needed to stay ahead of global competitors.
Just as important, we believe that Cravaack’s constituent outreach efforts have been extraordinary and few members of Congress in the nation have worked as hard to remain in touch with the voters. Policy matters, but so does effort. Cravaack deserves another term.
–This editorial is a product of the ECM Editorial Board.