2020 Voters Guide.jpg

DFL incumbent Dean Phillips faces a challenge from Republican Kendall Qualls in the race to represent the 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Phillips’ website is phillipsforcongress.org.

Qualls’ website is kendallforcongress.com.

Both candidates responded to a primary voters guide questionnaire published by ABC Newspapers earlier this year, and their responses are available here.

The candidates also responded to a questionnaire from the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Their responses to select questions are included below.

Dean Phillips


Dean Phillips

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

I’m a father, husband, businessman, Gold Star Son and lifelong Minnesotan who was raised in the district I now represent. I love hockey, the State Fair, and spending time on the lake with my family. I spent much of my career creating jobs and building businesses like Phillips Distilling, Talenti Gelato, and Penny’s Coffee, and serving as Chair of the Board of Allina Health System. I ran for Congress in the spirit of listening, problem solving, and mutual respect. Voters of all political stripes joined me in finding common ground and on the mission to restore faith in our government. I’m the only member of Congress to refuse all money from PACs, federal lobbyists, and members of Congress. That’s how I can represent the voters of MN03 - and not the special interests controlling Washington.

If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

I’m on a mission to inspire a culture of collaboration in Congress and restore Americans’ faith in our government. It starts by reducing the corrupting influence of special interest money in politics. No matter what one’s number one issue is, I ask that campaign finance reform become number two - because we’ll never be able fix our healthcare system, rebuild our economy, or reform public safety until we return power to the people.

I don’t take a penny from PACs, special interests, Federal lobbyists, or even other members of Congress. I’m beholden only to my values, the Constitution, and the people I represent. It’s how I remain an independent voice, able to reach across the aisle, find common ground, and get things done.

How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

The deaths of tens of thousands of Americans would likely have been prevented by an early and robust response by the Trump Administration. Rather than employing the pandemic response plan left by the Obama Administration and following the advice of epidemiologists and medical experts, the President has admitted to downplaying the severity of COVID-19 and the results have been catastrophic.

We’re facing the worst economic recession and public health emergency of our lifetimes, and the federal government has a responsibility to help get us through it as healthy, economically sound, and prepared for the future as possible.

To that end, I’m proud that my bipartisan bill to make urgent relief more usable for small businesses, the PPP Flexibility Act, passed almost unanimously through a divided Congress and was signed into law by the President. It helped millions of American small business owners keep their doors open, and it was all possible because Rep. Chip Roy (R, TX) and I listened to our constituents, committed to partnership, and built a strong coalition - including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed my re-election.

And that was just the beginning. This month, I led a working group of the Problem Solvers Caucus, consisting of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, in developing and introducing a bipartisan framework to help break the impasse on COVID-19 relief negotiations. Americans are suffering, and it’s time for a new era of respect, cooperation, and commitment to seeking common ground if we hope to realize our collective potential.

Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

As a Gold Star Son, I have deep respect for those who wear a uniform and put their lives on the line to keep us safe. That is why I’m honored to have earned the endorsement of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the state’s largest organization representing law enforcement professionals.

Many of our Third District police departments are taking innovative approaches to public safety, from hiring social workers to assist officers responding to delicate family situations to investing in community relations to build trust with those they serve and protect.

Yet the law enforcement officials throughout our community with whom I regularly engage have communicated that we are asking our police departments to handle far too much. With police officers being asked to address everything from opioid and meth cases to mental health situations - we must ensure adequate training, support, and increased investment in tackling the root causes of crime.

I am pleased that Minnesota came together in a bipartisan fashion to pass criminal justice and police reforms, most recently in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. I remain hopeful that Congress can do the same. We need national standards to ensure equal protection and equal justice under the law.

Immigration reform continues to languish at the federal level. What should be the principles of any legislation?

My family came to this country for the same reasons as many others: for opportunity and a place of refuge from persecution. That’s the America that I know and love; a compassionate America that values and welcomes hard-working people who come here with big dreams and a simple wish for safety and opportunity. This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It is a human issue and an economic issue. We must do better and we must do it together - that’s why I led my colleagues on the Problem Solvers Caucus on one of the only bipartisan trips to our southern border in Congress this year.

Zero-tolerance immigration policies do not make us safer, as they fail to address the root causes of immigration. They threaten our national security by forcing us to spend our tax dollars and enforcement resources on locking up children instead of combating real threats, and they undermine core American values and decrease our ability to hold other countries accountable for human rights abuses.

Any immigration reform legislation must include a comprehensive plan for pathways to citizenship. I don’t like the notion of rewarding rulebreakers, but it is from a human perspective, and economic perspective, and a very American perspective, appropriate to at least afford the path to citizenship as soon as we possibly can. That doesn’t mean that I believe people should be given a free pass. I think the notion of redemption is appropriate because we have thousands of thousands of people from around the country who are waiting in line, paying the money, and going through the legal process to get here.

Kendall Qualls


Kendall Qualls

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

I grew up as one of five children of a single mother, spending my early years in a drug and gangridden public housing project in Harlem, NY before upgrading to a trailer park in Oklahoma. After paying my way through college, I served as an Active Duty Field Artillery Officer in the Army and served in the United States and in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea. I then began my career in the healthcare industry, leading global teams with companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. Most recently, I served as an executive with a healthcare startup that helps cancer patients using artificial intelligence and data analytics. My wife Sheila and I have been married 34 years and have five children.

If elected, what is your top priority for the 2021 Congress? Why are you running for office?

My top priority as a member of Congress will be to ensure safe and secure communities by protecting our families, our jobs, and our communities by funding the police and implementing needed reforms. Safety and security is the first order of government and ensuring safe communities will help us revitalize and strengthen our economy by supporting small businesses harmed by COVID-19, easing burdensome regulations, and passing fair trade agreements.

I am running for Congress, as a leader with military and business experience, outside the world of politics, to address the difficult challenges facing our state and country and help people pursue a goal that is larger than each individual and that transcends racial, economic and gender differences.

How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

The federal response has been largely effective in mitigating economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, but the most important economic stimulus will be the approval of a vaccine to treat COVID-19. We must also engage in the hard discussions about the impact continued deficit spending will have on the national debt and the negative consequences it will have on future generations.

Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

George Floyd’s tragic death illuminated the need for reforms addressing police strategy, training, and monitoring. At the same time, it is imperative that we give police officers the support and training they need. The efforts to defund and abolish the police threaten our physical AND economic security. The majority of police officers risk their lives on a daily basis to protect and serve the community. Our campaign was the first to forward a detailed plan to reform policing and protect our communities, which can be found at https://bit.Ly/3lw281n, and include planks to:

• Support, encourage, and implement community policing

• Provide better training of law enforcement tactics, including on use of force, deescalation tactics, and intervention.

• Intervene, retrain, review, monitor, and remove problem officers

• Update and implement procedures for reporting, investigating, and disciplining use of force misconduct.

Immigration reform continues to languish at the federal level. What should be the principles of any legislation?

Our immigration system is broken, and both parties share the blame. Immigration reform should include provisions to secure our southern border, end illegal immigration, and put in place a merit-based immigration process. The United States is a land of immigrants, and we should welcome with open arms those who follow the laws and immigrate legally. Additionally, changes need to be made to the H-1B immigration process, but they must be well planned and address the concerns of all stakeholders, including families and businesses.

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