Hey everyone. Candidates, when you get logged in please send a message letting us know you are in the chat. Voters, you can submit a question by clicking "make a comment" above.
Hi Michael, Patrick here!
Hi Patrick, thanks for joining.
You're welcome. You're doing a great service by moderating this!
The forum starts today at 12:00p.m.
Hey, it's Mike Obermueller here. Thanks Michael for hosting. Thanks everyone for joining us today.
Hi Mike, thanks for joining. We will get going here in a few minutes.
Minnesota's redrawn 2nd Congressional District has a trio of Democrats weighing a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican who could be more vulnerable than he has been in past elections.
Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord, former DFL state Rep. Mike Obermueller of Eagan, Minn., and Northfield City Council member Patrick Ganey have announced that they will challenge Kline, who has represented the sprawling district south of the Twin Cities for 10 years.
In the recent round of redistricting, the 2nd District lost conservative ground in Carver and Le Sueur Counties to the south. It gained solid Democratic turf to the north, picking up parts of South St. Paul and West St. Paul.
The changed district lines have the three Democrats optimistic about their chances.
Today we will learn more about the DFL candidates.
At this time, I'd like to invite the candidates to post their opening statements. Please keep your statement to 200 words or less.
I am running for the DFL endorsement in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional district because critical issues are being ignored or attacked by an inflexible Republican party. I believe that government is about people, and that no matter how many dollar signs and zeros are attached to the bills before Congress, the 435 Representatives must be able to answer the question, what are we doing to improve people’s lives, what are we doing to make tomorrow better?
Especially when decision making feels rushed or based on sound bites in this age of Twitter and Facebook, the core value of helping those who need help has to inform the many and complicated issues our United States Congress addresses.
I will work for strong education in this country, recognizing it as the foundation of our ambitions for a vigorous economy. Making college, skilled trades training, and community colleges affordable must be a priority for this country. We must invest in people so that an innovative economy can flourish. Local transportation and infrastructure issues also have been neglected, from roads and bridges to rail and transit.
A reasonable approach to government is needed and I will work with everyone in the district for balanced representation.
Kathleen Gaylord has a conflict and won't be on the chat, but she did send the following opening statement.
"I’m Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord. It’s time for new representation in the new 2nd Congressional District. Voters of all political persuasions are fed up with elected officials who put partisanship ahead of progress. They want common sense government that works for people to resolve the backlog of issues that have languished in Washington far too long. I've been at the heart of making government work for my constituents as commissioner and as a local government leader for nearly three decades and it will be an honor and a privilege to continue those efforts in Washington, DC on behalf of the entire 2nd District.
"This online forum provides an excellent opportunity to hear from the MPR listener community. Given the short notice, I regret that I am unable to participate personally in this one hour session. But I look forward to the next opportunity to interact with all of you as this campaign moves forward. Please take a chance to visit me online at KathleenGaylord.com and join me at www.facebook.com/KathleenGaylord and @KathleenGaylord to continue this conversation."
We will get to question one as we wait for Mike to post his opening statement.
Hi all. Catharine Richert here, with Mike. I'm helping him
host this forum today.
With that, here's the first question:
Is there an issue you don’t generally agree with your party on?
Thank you all for joining us today. I got into this election after incumbent Congressman Kline voted to end Medicare as we know it. We in CD-02 deserve better. We deserve someone who will stand up for the middle class, for students and for seniors. Who will work to provide better health care, jobs, education and protect women's rights.
I think I am in a unique position to win back this seat. I also know how to win in a tough district like this. In 2008, I unseated Tim Pawlenty’s hand-picked successor – a very popular three-term Republican incumbent. Like I did in 2008, I’ll be able to connect with voters all over this district because I know their values and the way of life their trying to protect.
I’m also up to the task of raising the funds it will take to introduce the real John Kline to this district. This campaign will be my full-time job, reaching out 60+ hours per week– reaching out to voters, describing the future we all deserve, and raising the more than $1 million necessary to beat John Kline.
I hope you will consider supporting me in the upcoming days and weeks.
I support single-payer health care, which isn't universally supported in the party. I think we have to work within the party to find agreement on difficult issues.
@Patrick What differentiates you among the field of candidates also seeking the DFL nomination?
It's not so much of a disagreement, but there's not enough talk about balancing our budget. There's no question we have to balance the budget, but we need to make sure it's not being balanced on the backs of middle class families, students and seniors. We have to make sure we are doing things like eliminating government redundancies, such as were cited in the recent GAO report. This would save us $10s of billions
without compromising our priorities.
@Mike. Same question: What differentiates you among the field of candidates also seeking the DFL nomination?
A whole career of service. I've made choices about my career and all of them involve serving the public, which I will continue to do if endorsed and elected to Congress.
While I have a great amount of respect for the other candidates, this election is about who can win in November. I took out a three-term Republican incumbent to represent Tim Pawlenty's old House seat in Eagan. I've pledged to work the 60+ hours it will take to raise the money and connect with voters to beat Congressman Kline.
@Patrick. How do you see that setting you apart from the other candidates?
If you don’t get the DFL endorsement this weekend, will you drop out of the race?
A lot of politics has become self-serving and my career shows a consistent commitment to improving the lives of people.
Yes, I will drop out of the race if not endorsed.
Nancy Dahl an undecided voter in Savage says, “Burnsville School District has faced budget cuts for years to the point that they are now examining an alternative school calendar to save money.” She asks, “Where do you stand in financially supporting public education?”
Supporting public education must be a top priority of our government, and too much of the financial burden has descended onto local communities and property taxes. An investment in education is an investment in this country's future. I have three school-aged children and like other parents I want to see strong schools for all students.
I believe this is one of the most important issues we are facing today. One of my goals in Congress will be to work to make sure our students are getting a world-class education. Education is an investment in our future. It means a stronger economy, better jobs and more innovation. I think the No Child Left Behind Act has failed our students and we need to make sure we are empowering our teachers to do much more than simply teach to a test.
On the subject of education, John Kline says he opposes extending a low interest rate for federal student loans because it would cost the government $6 billion. Interest rates will double in July if the lower rate isn’t extended. What is your view on the issue?
I think this is one of many examples where incumbent Congressman Kline is completely out of touch. Even Mitt Romney has stated strong support for extending the current low student loan rates. I am in strong support of extending these rates to college students and think we need to look at more ways to expand access to college for our students.
Kline called continuing low interest rates for student loans "bad policy" in an interview yesterday and I disagree completely. Students, and their families, too, cannot be burdened by a debt load that limits what young graduates can do. We must work hard to keep education affordable for everyone. Our youth are our future and we must invest in them!
Art Penfield, an undecided voter from Mendota Heights asks, ”I'd like to see our country stop importing oil from the Middle East so we could pull our troops out of that area. Do you think that's possible?”
I support the withdrawal of our troops in the Middle East. We have been trying to fight too many wars for too long. I agree we have to work hard to reduce our dependency on foreign oil-- it is both an energy and national security issues. What we need is more investment in the development of green and alternative energy sources.
We will continue to use oil and coal for a long time, but we must invest significantly in alternative energies, using our best scientists, engineers and researchers to find economical ways to produce renewable, non-imported energy. Our country should focus on this issue as it has enormous long term implications for climate change, military conflict, and the economy as a whole.
As I just wrote in the Q about energy, we must address climate change because it has causes that affect so much of our economy. The first thing I would do is continue to invest in alternative energies. This research has been supported in the stimulus package but much of the research money will soon dry up. And an investment like that encourages innovation, which is what makes this country so economically strong and dynamic. the environment is just one place to invest. we also have to look immediately at our returning veterans and support them as they transition to civilian life.
Robert Saumweber, a Kline supporter, wants to know, “What is your plan to save Social Security and Medicare?”