The Adams Publishing - ECM Editorial Board has interviewed both Pete Stauber and Joe Radinovich for endorsement in the congressional race for Minnesota’s 8th District. Both candidates well represent constituents of their party’s base. Both candidates bring a passion to the race and to the job and that passion will serve our citizens well. The candidates are different and those differences, on some issues, are stark.

The 8th District was long a DFL stronghold. Since 2010, however, that is no longer true. That year, Republican Chip Cravaack ousted 18-term DFL incumbent Rep. Jim Oberstar. Cravaack himself was defeated two years later by DFL Rep. Rick Nolan. Nolan held on to the seat through two hard-fought, close elections against Republican Stewart Mills.

In those four elections, the winning candidate averaged just 50.29 percent of the vote, and three of the races were decided by less than 4,400 votes. Even though Nolan is retiring, this year’s race is expected to be no different.

So far, the race has been marred by attacks on the candidates’ personal histories. Republican Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner, has been accused, in violation of county policy, of using his government computer to exchange 15 emails dealing with campaign business. Radinovich, a DFL legislator for one term and most recently chief of staff to the mayor of Minneapolis, has 32 traffic tickets for parking meter, speeding and driving after revocation violations. These topics may make a difference to some voters but we believe the issues the next congressman will face in Washington, D.C., are the ones on which voters should base their decision.

Another issue that we think should be secondary is the candidates’ support or lack thereof for President Trump. While calling Trump an “unindicted co-conspirator” of his lawyer Michael Cohen, Radinovich is not ready to bring articles of impeachment against the president. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both come into the district to campaign for Stauber, who remains a supporter of theirs. However, the Republican also is for continuing the Mueller investigation, saying, “Nobody is above the law.”

That still leaves plenty of other issues on which voters can make their decision. Among them:

* Radinovich supports a single payer health care system, the cost of which is estimated to be $34 trillion over 10 years. He said, “Single payer is socialism like the fire department is socialism.” Stauber opposes the government taking over health care and says, “The cost will destroy the country.”

* Stauber thinks steel tariffs should have been imposed years ago. He said, “I have unswerving support for the mining and timber industries.” He believes mining can be conducted while maintaining a clean environment. Pointing out how Canada subsidizes vegetable farms and dairy producers, he said, “I don’t want to start a trade war, but … what about standing up for our workers.” Radinovich said nearly all miners were back to work when the tariffs were applied. He said many people feel like they are losing ground, but said that frustration was misplaced by a trade war, when the real culprits are technology and automation. Calling Trump’s trade policies “haphazard,” he said, “We need a more holistic view.”

* Radinovich is opposed to expansion of the requirement of the able-bodied to work or be actively looking for work to receive Supplemental Nutrition Allowance Program (SNAP) benefits. Stauber is for the expansion, noting that the program has an estimated $5 billion in fraud annually.

* Stauber says the best way to make Social Security solvent is by providing jobs so more people are paying into the system. Beyond that, he would require high-income individuals to pay the Social Security tax on income above $300,000. Radinovich also said the Social Security cap on earnings, currently at $128,400, should be raised, but did not specify an amount. He opposes increasing the retirement age for benefits.

* Radinovich supports creating a “short pass to citizenship” for undocumented aliens. He said he opposes abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but noted that between 8 million and 12 million undocumented immigrants are in the nation already. He said, “Let’s be real.” Stauber also supports immigration, but only if it is legal. He said he supports the work of ICE, but thinks we should find a way for DACA children (who came here as young children and know only American society) to become citizens.

Radinovich, 32, is a strong and articulate advocate for his views. With the exception of a year working with special education students, his passion has been for serving people through government and politics. He is well-versed on today’s political issues and appears principled and to be a good listener.

Stauber, 52, played a few years of professional hockey before becoming a dedicated public servant with a long career in law enforcement. He eventually served as both the president of the Law Enforcement Labor Services Union, Local 363 and as an area commander with the Duluth Police Department. He is articulate in representing his party’s positions. Frankly, he would stand well for office based on his own policies and his own presentation of those policies. The president could learn a great deal by carrying his message with the attitude of candidate Stauber.

Excellent reasons exist to elect either of these candidates, but in our opinion the edge goes to Stauber based on his broader, more diverse life experiences.

– An opinion of the Adams Publishing – ECM Editorial Board. Reactions to this editorial welcome. Send to:

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