APPLE VALLEY, Minn. – Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tim Walz left his district to hold a town hall in Minnesota’s second congressional district with Angie Craig, in protest of Rep. Jason Lewis’ supposed lack of response to organizers’ requests for a town hall.
The assembled crowd filed into the Apple Valley Senior Center, many of them wearing stickers or buttons supporting Angie Craig’s candidacy for congress. Lewis defeated her 47 percent to 45.2 percent. Independence Party congressional candidate Paula Overby was also in attendance.
Walz, Craig, and the assembled audience touched on a wide variety of political issues. Immigration came up later in the town hall, and Walz recalled an experience he had after winning his first congressional election in 2006.
“The week after I was elected in 2006, that giant ICE raid happened in Worthington, you know,” Walz said, “I drove out to Worthington as the Congressman-elect, went into the basement of the Catholic church where Father Brixius was, who asked me to look around at all the children crying and he said, ‘This is what terrorism looks like in America today.’”
The Worthington raid was one of six coordinated raids undertaken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in December of 2006. All of the raids targeted Swift Co. meatpacking plants across the Midwest. Several hundred illegal immigrant workers were arrested at the Worthington location.
In addition to Walz’s comparison of enforcement of the United States immigration laws to terrorism, the gubernatorial candidate also took issue with the idea of religious freedom
“What is the difference between breaking the law and sin?” asked one attendee, who said he was a retired clergyman.
Walz declined to make that specific distinction, which much of the crowd appreciated in terms of separation of church and state, but he gave an opinionated answer nonetheless.
“The religious freedom thing, I said when we saw equality, we knew that retreating back into religious freedom was going to be the response to the spreading of equality,” Walz said in part of his response, “I like all of you am deeply worried of where we end up with this because we know it’s not about religious freedom it’s about religious superiority.”
One attendee described himself and his wife as “political refugees from Wisconsin.” Walz heartily agreed that Wisconsin is facing what he perceives as awful times under Gov. Scott Walker and pushed the crowd to vote for him to avoid similar policies being implemented in Minnesota.
“My campaign team has my unofficial slogan for governor,” Walz said, “They said, ‘It’s Walz or Wisconsin.’”
Wisconsin currently has a 3.4 percent unemployment rate compared with Minnesota’s 3.8 percent rate. Wisconsin’s has fallen 4.6 percent since Walker took office in January 2011, while Minnesota’s has fallen 3.1 percent since Gov. Mark Dayton took office in the same month.
One attendee also implored Walz to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require representatives to live in the districts they represent. Walz promised to look into it. There was no discussion of Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate in the special election for Georgia’s sixth congressional district. Ossoff lives 1.5 miles outside of his district reports CNN, ostensibly to support his girlfriend of twelve years as she finishes medical school.