Congressman Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, met with supporters Monday, Jan. 20, in Brainerd to announce his bid for reelection in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District — a campaign that, if successful, would mark the first time a Republican has been able to win a second term in the district in 76 years.
“I’m going to fight every day for our way of life,” Stauber said. “I’m going to fight for our farmers, manufacturers and small businesses. … You're looking at a person with a fire in their belly, not just a fire in my belly to represent you, but a burning blue flame and it’s hot.”
Echoing Republican slogans at the federal level, Stauber said his candidacy for a second term is predicated on putting constituents and their needs at the forefront.
“We need to put the American people first, we need to put Minnesotans first,” said Stauber, who pointed to the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which serves as the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, as one of the “best deals” the United States could get out of negotiations.
Brainerd was at the tail end of a district-wide announcement tour meeting with lawmakers, supporters, industry representatives and others that took Stauber from Eveleth, to his home base in Hermantown, to Wyoming, and then the Brainerd Exchange at the Northern Pacific Center. In his speech, Stauber noted there’s been great progress and concerning setbacks in his freshman tenure on Capitol Hill and said he’s been asked by GOP leaders to serve as a party whip.
While Stauber pointed to the lowest unemployment rates in decades, increased wages for the nation’s lowest earners, and a reduction in illegal border crossings by 78%, he also took aim at an alleged socialist threat from the likes of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minneapolis, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-New York City. He lambasted their push for universal health care, a Green New Deal, and other progressive initiatives.
In terms of impeachment charges against President Donald Trump, Stauber — who voted against both articles of impeachment drafted by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives — doubled down on previous statements that impeachment in 2019 was a partisan tactic by Democrats to unseat a president they fear will win reelection in 2020.
“I spent 22 years as a police officer — nobody is above the law. And, I take impeachment extremely serious,” Stauber said. “I firmly believe this impeachment is about affecting the 2020 election.”
Stauber criticized opponents to Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani earlier this month, noting the United States, United Nations and European Union had all designated him as a high-ranking and dangerous terrorist.
“Our commander in chief made a choice to take him out,” said Stauber, who decried Democrats’ unwillingness to back Trump in this action when there was bipartisan support for former President Barack Obama’s decision to assassinate Osama Bin Laden in 2011. “I believe the decision to take him out was appropriate.”
In addition, Stauber noted he intends to continue efforts to improve roads and bridges, small business opportunities and rural broadband, while defending senior-oriented programs like Medicaid and Social Security, as well as other rural-centric initiatives as long as he’s in office.
Bruce Nelsen of Staples, alongside Sheldon Monson of Wadena, said they traveled to Brainerd to support a congressman who has been accessible and communicative, as well as a consistent champion for small business and Social Security pensioners.
“I think he really has a grasp of the district,” Nelsen said. “His experiences in Duluth and the Iron Range area give him a pretty good idea of where the public is at.”
“He understands the diversity of his district,” Monson said. “He’s strongly in favor of the mining industry and the logging industry, but he’s also very much an advocate for small business. He comes out. He networks, he has town hall meetings. He’s willing to go out and connect with his constituents.”