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Minnesota GOP opens campaign office in Baxter

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Congressional District 8 Republican candidate Pete Stauber talks to constituents Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the new Republican campaign office at 14039 Edgewood Drive in Baxter. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video2 / 3
Minnesota Republicans Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan talks Wednesday, Oct. 3, about the opportunities for her party after opening a campaign office at 14039 Edgewood Drive in Baxter. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video3 / 3

BAXTER—The Minnesota Republicans are setting up shop in Baxter for the coming election, making camp—so to speak—in a county that's been dependably red for several years.

Prominent conservative politicos—including Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, state Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, and 8th District candidate Pete Stauber—converged on the new office at 14039 Edgewood Drive (just a door down from Boomer's Pizza) to kick off the final five weeks of the 2018 midterm elections. Election day is Nov. 6.

For Carnahan, the new office in Baxter represents the establishment of a headquarters in one of the most Republican counties in the 8th Congressional District and a good base to shift a district that's "ripe" to be flipped to GOP representation.

"It really is important that we turn out every Republican voter to elect, not only Pete Stauber for Congress, but to elect all the Republican candidates on the ballot," Carnahan said. "We realize that people contribute their time, treasure and talent and it's important in different ways, but it's especially important this election cycle only 35 days away."

Door-knocking, pamphlets, phone calls—it's a formidable ground game, Carnahan said, and it's one the GOP wasn't able to utilize as well during the 2016 election when President Donald Trump swept the district by more than 15 points and turned it red in a presidential election for the first time since Herbert Hoover in 1928. The new Baxter office looks to be a centerpiece of those efforts.

Though, that doesn't mean Stauber is the only notable horse in the race, Carnahan said, emphasizing the GOP is running a host of important campaigns featuring Doug Wardlow against the DFL's Keith Ellison for state attorney general, Jeff Johnson for governor and Jim Newberger and Karin Housley for both U.S. Senate seats—a pairing of Senate seats on the ballot that has rarely occurred in American politics.

Stauber stumps for new NAFTA deal

While headlines highlight a new and negotiated trade deal with Canada that looks to curb its dairy industry protectionism and increase the market presence of American farmers, Stauber visited dairy operations in the area—an industry that has experienced difficulties amid tariffs implemented in response to tariffs by the Trump administration.

"The dairy farmers I've spoken to, they're very excited about this new deal with Canada and Mexico, in particular for dairy farmers to produce and put forth into Canada," Stauber told the Dispatch. "They're excited—it's not set in stone—but they're looking forward to that and they said it's a great start."

Stauber characterized the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (rechristened the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA) as a fulfillment of a campaign promise by Trump.

During the lead-up to the 2016 election, the president criticized international trade deals, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the latter of which he ultimately axed in one of his first acts as president—lambasting them as unfair and harmful to American interests.

By renegotiating NAFTA, the president leveled the scales in favor of the United States, Stauber said, which looks to rectify some shortfalls experienced during the back-and-forth tariffs between the Trump administration and Canada, the European Union and China. While some sectors have experienced strains as a result of these tariffs, Stauber said, these short-term struggles set the stage for the United States to have increased bargaining power when it comes to the table to rewrite these deals.

"It's a good starting point for these negotiations. That's healthy for every country involved," Stauber said. "This president wants to make sure the American worker, the farmer, the manufacturer are on a level playing field."

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