Republican Kendall Qualls is running against Dean Phillips

The DFL immediately attacked Qualls

Kendall Qualls—a U.S. Army veteran and healthcare IT executive—just announced he is running in Minnesota’s third congressional district against Democrat Congressman Dean Phillips. And unlike former Phillips opponent and third district congressman Erik Paulsen, Qualls is a strong supporter of President Trump. 

Erik Paulsen was a Republican who liked to shy away from more controversial issues, including immigration, and stick to talking about tax cuts. In an already tough race, that put Paulsen at odds with strong Trump supporters within his district, who had been cheered by President Trump taking the Republican Party in a different—and less-overtly pro-big-business—direction. 

Qualls’ new approach was apparent when he was asked about the feud between President Trump and controversial Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has been highly critical of America, and is credibly accused of marrying her brother to commit tax fraud and student loan fraud, among other things.

“When I hear Ilhan speak about our country, for a woman that’s in Congress for only eight months, coming here as a refugee and what the country’s done for her, the thing that gets me more than anything is, how about a little gratitude with that attitude,” said Qualls.

Speaking of Omar, the Congresswoman may be a problem for the more-moderate Phillips in 2020. While Phillips has voted against Trump over 90 percent of the time, he has bucked his party on at least one issue. And Phillips even stood up to anti-Semitic remarks made by Ilhan Omar in a private meeting between Congressional Democrats, which allegedly caused another controversial Democratic Congresswoman—Rep. Rashida Tlaib—to cry. 

But Phillips will have a tough time appeasing the Democratic base and bashing Trump, all while attempting to distance himself from the far-left policies of Ilhan Omar and the growing power of the Democratic Party’s far-left wing.

That may help explain why the Minnesota state Democrat Party is so keen on attacking Qualls, a highly successful businessman and veteran who is black, right out of the gate. This includes attacking a day-old campaign for not taking a clear stance on every single issue—even when election day is well over a year away. Will Qualls’ new approach be able to give Phillips a run for his money? The Minnesota Democratic Party seems to fear so. 


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Willis Krumholz

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.