On Thursday, two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District participated in a debate sponsored by the Scott County GOP. Taylor Rahm and Joe Teirab, both lawyers, answered questions on a variety of topics during the 80-minute forum in Prior Lake.
Rahm, who runs a private law practice in Minnetonka, is a criminal defense attorney who grew up in the district.
Teirab, the son of a Sudanese immigrant, served as a United States Marine before becoming a federal prosecutor.
Minnesota’s Second Congressional District includes all of Dakota County, Scott County, Le Sueur County, and parts of Rice and Washington counties. According to their campaign websites, both candidates are running on the same four issues: the economy, public safety, border security, and education.
Rahm opened the debate talking about his upbringing, education, college baseball career, and how he never wanted to be a politician. Rahm delivered a forceful indictment of the current political landscape and told the Republicans attending the event that “now is the time to fight.”
In Teirab’s opening statement, the candidate talked about his father who emigrated from Sudan, and his grandfather who was a prisoner of war in World War II. Further, Teirab discussed his military background and his work as a federal prosecutor putting drug dealers and illegal immigrants behind bars.
Only once did they engage in a back-and-forth exchange, a brief clash over their records as attorneys.
Regarding the illegal immigration crisis at the United States’ southern border, both candidates said they support completing the border wall.
When asked about legal immigration, Rahm said, “There are a lot of people that want to come to our country the right way, and we should continue to encourage them. We are a generous nation, and we should continue to be so.” While expressing his support for legal immigration, Rahm reiterated that “border security is the number one issue.”
On the topic of legal immigration, Teirab talked about his own family’s immigration background. Furthermore, Teirab stated that discussions of the legal immigration system need to be tabled until the southern border is secured.
“There has to be security on our border,” said Teirab.
In addition to the immigration discussion, both candidates discussed their stances on abortion.
Speaking first on the topic of abortion, Teirab said, “All life is precious and all life is created in the image of God. At the same time, we have a democracy, right?” Teirab said he is against a federal ban on abortion but would back policies that support “a culture of life.” Additionally, Teirab said he supports “pro-life policies that have those exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.”
Rahm stated that Republicans should go on “offense” on the issue of abortion. Seemingly agreeing with Teirab’s stance on a federal abortion ban, Rahm said he believes the issue of abortion should be decided at the state level.
“Life is important. It means a lot, and I am personally pro-life,” said Rahm.
The debate’s moderator, State Rep. Walter Hudson, R-Albertville, asked each candidate what specific policy areas or committees they were most eager to engage with should they be elected to Congress.
Both candidates expressed an interest in serving on the House Judiciary Committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. Furthermore, Rahm discussed a desire to work on agricultural issues.
Rep. Hudson also asked both candidates about the war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.
When asked about the war in Ukraine, both candidates gave very similar answers. They expressed their support for Ukraine, exhibited skepticism about the funding for the war, and said the United States’ focus should be on securing America’s southern border instead.
On the conflict in the Middle East, both candidates denounced Hamas and said they support Israel.
The debate was sponsored by the Scott County Republican Party. Attendees of the event held a straw poll following the debate to gauge support for the two candidates. Rahm won the straw poll with 75% (174 votes), Teirab collected 18% (42 votes), and the remaining 7% were undecided.
Whoever wins the Republican nomination for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will face left-wing Democrat Angie Craig in the November general election. Rep. Craig has held the congressional seat since 2019.
Minnesota’s Second Congressional District is considered the most competitive congressional seat in the state.