Congressional Candidates Face-Off At Debate

cd2 debate 1

(Inver Grove Heights)

The five candidates for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District faced off at a debate hosted by Republicans in District 52. The congressional seat is opening up after Representative John Kline announced his retirement.  Over 140 people filled the room at Gateway Christian Church in Inver Grove Heights to hear what the candidates had to say on issues like education, energy, immigration, and tax policy.

A member of the audience said he “did not see a whole lot of differentiation” between the candidates on most topics, but one topic they seemed to differ on was foreign policy.  Here is a glimpse in to their responses:

Pam Myhra – Former Minnesota State Representative, CPA:  “Let there be no mistake, we need a strong military.  We need to protect our national security, we need to return our country to a position of strength and leadership.” Myhra then addressed the issue in Syria, stating, “as far as funding in the Middle East… we need to look out for our country’s interest, I’m opposed to putting boots on the ground in Syria.  At this point no, we need to be looking at our own country’s interests.”

David Gerson – Corporate Level Manager, Former Congressional Candidate:  “Before America engages in any conflict, it is owed to the American people that we define exactly how this is in our vital interest, we have a defined and achievable goal, with a known exit strategy, that there is no mission creep…Congress is the only body that can declare war, we have to stop abdicating responsibility to the executive branch.”

John Howe – Former State Senator, Business Owner:  “I think this comes back to the national debt that we’re carrying. Part of the reason we don’t have a fully funded military is because we can’t afford to, and we need to.  Our navy fleet is running about at half as what it should be.  And certainly the Middle East is a hot bed and certainly we need to pay attention and we need to be involved and we need to do what we need to take steps.  We certainly don’t want to see what happened in Paris happen here.  So we have to be involved.”

David Benson-Staebler – Political Consultant, Real Estate Development Assistant: “Some of the candidates here (Myhra, Gerson, Lewis) are a bit restrictive about what the U.S. engagements can be.  I firmly believe as Dick Cheney recently put it, America is exceptional when it comes to global security, and we need to make sure that America is not fronting a bill that we can’t afford, and that the other world is not providing the necessary shared wars.  There can be no freedom on earth for terrorists.  We have that capability and we need to maintain that.”

Jason Lewis – Radio Talk Show Host, Political Commentator: “If they’re fleeing their country maybe the able-bodied young men ought to stay and fight.  We can give them aid and support but it’s their country and it’s their fight.  I am tired, sick and tired, of America fighting other wars that our allies should be contributing to.  And I’m not going to support that.”

The debate saw little controversy aside from Lewis calling out Howe on supporting Common Core and being the “swing vote in the Senate Taxes Committee to get the Vikings bill to the floor.”  Howe responded that he only voted for the stadium “when it was user’s fees only.”  Howe returned the attack by suggesting that Lewis’ project is a “Ponzi scheme.”

The precinct caucuses and BPOU conventions will take place in March, with a candidate likely being chosen in late April.

Alpha News has one-on-one interviews with all of the candidates, which will be posted in the coming days.