REGIONAL - Rick Nolan’s choice to not seek re-election to Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District has left a wide-open field of DFL hopefuls, but Republicans have largely rallied around a single …
REGIONAL - Rick Nolan’s choice to not seek re-election to Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District has left a wide-open field of DFL hopefuls, but Republicans have largely rallied around a single candidate ahead of the Aug. 14 primary, Pete Stauber, in hopes of swinging the district red.
The district has rarely seen the GOP win an election for the seat, but GOP hopes are high after Donald Trump won the district in convincing fashion in 2016.
The party has thrown its support behind Stauber, and the push to elect him over any of his potential DFL challengers has even gained national attention with President Donald Trump himself stumping for the career police officer last month in Duluth. Stauber had also amassed a campaign war chest of over $800,000 as of the last FEC reporting cycle.
Although Nolan won the district in 2016, it was narrow, and President Trump took 54 percent of the vote, the first Republican presidential hopeful to take a majority in recent memory.
Stauber knows the GOP has put a lot behind him, but he still campaigns on being independent of the party’s wishes if it means the best for the district.
“One of the things I want to work on is that Washington understands rural America,” he said. “They are working on party politics, not all people. I want to make sure our kids have jobs and can stay and raise a family. I want to make sure our timber industry is successful. I want to make sure people can live the American Dream like I have.”
The future of the American Dream to Stauber is focused on two major factors, the economy, and public safety.
Stauber supports iron ore and copper-nickel mining in the region and stands behind Enbridge’s plan to replace its Line 3 petroleum pipeline through the region. He said the projects represent a “way of life” to northeastern Minnesota.
He said President Trump’s tariffs are long overdue and will help improve that way of life on the Range.
“This should have been done decades ago.,” Stauber said. “We should have stopped Chinese steel dumping years ago. What President Trump is doing, he is putting the American family, the American steel worker first.”
And while the tariffs are expected to hit farmers hardest, Stauber said those in the farming communities in the district have told them they support the president’s decision even with the potential for hardship.
“Farmers have some trepidation about what is going on,” he said, “but they have expressed to me that it is the right thing to do.”
On the topic of mining, Stauber said he breaks from party lines. Unlike many in the GOP who have called for de-regulation of government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Stauber said that can’t happen, noting his wife has worked with the EPA in the past.
Stauber said he knows there are risks from mining, such as the potential for dangerous ground water contamination from sulfides, but he said the technology and regulation are present to ensure mining companies remain safe provided they follow the rules.
When it comes to public safety, Stauber said he is lending his career as a police officer to push back against the national opioid crisis.
“I am the only candidate that has had to deliver a death notice,” he said. “Prevention is critical. We have to lessen the demand (for drugs). Not only young people, older people are being overly prescribed opioid drugs. When you are selling drugs that are killing people, you have to pay a price for that.”
Stauber said those who commit drug crimes, especially those who are charged with dealing the substances, should face federal prosecution, when possible, since those sentences are generally tougher.
Ensuring the port of Duluth receives federal security funds is also a chief concern. The city does not currently receive funding even though it is a major port of entry for foreign imports.
When it comes to his lone GOP challenger, Harry Welty, who has been highly critical of Stauber’s support of President Trump, Stauber said he hasn’t paid attention.
“I’ve been campaigning for over a year and not hearing a lot about Trump controversy on the campaign trail,” Stauber said. “I can’t speak for him (Trump). What he is doing for the economy, optimism is at an all-time high right now. I have always been an independent thinker. I will always put the people of the district first no matter what.”