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Endorsement: Pick Jen Schultz in Minnesota's 8th, her vow to 'represent everyone'

From the editorial: "Working behind the scenes and across the aisle, with a willingness to give and take, builds the sort of bipartisan relationships and support that get things done and that have helped build Schultz’s record."

Jen Schultz smiles as the crowd erupts when she officially announces she is running for Congress
Inside the Duluth City Hall rotunda, Jen Schultz of Duluth smiles as a crowd of supporters cheers her announcement in March that was was running for the 8th Congressional District.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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For eight years, Jen Schultz served in a politically divided state Legislature — and was able to get important measures passed anyway to help everyday Minnesotans facing addiction, mental health challenges, homelessness, difficulties affording their prescription drugs, and other matters. She has stepped up where the government is counted on to provide help and make a real difference.

Schultz is running now to represent an 8th Congressional District that largely has been abandoned by an incumbent seemingly more focused on party, and even extreme tangents within his party, than on the people he was elected to serve. Perhaps most disqualifying, Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber of Hermantown signed on to the Texas lawsuit that sought to overturn the will of the voters following the 2020 presidential election, making him part of the same coup that led to the violent and deadly Jan. 6, 2021, overrun of the U.S. Capitol.

“I will represent everyone,” Schultz vowed, in stark contrast to the current representation, in an exclusive interview this fall with Forum Communications.

In the Nov. 8 election, the Democrat from Duluth can be given that chance by those eligible to cast ballots in the massive 8th, which stretches more than halfway across the state’s northeast, from the Canadian border to the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. The district includes the Iron Range, Duluth, Brainerd, Aitkin, all seven of Minnesota’s Anishinaabe reservations, and more.

“When you represent this number of people in Congress, and with a district this size, you have to make sure you are doing work for everyone, and you have to put people over party,” Schultz also said. “That’s what I would do.”

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It’s what she has been doing in the Minnesota Legislature. This year, while not much was reaching the finish line in St. Paul, Schultz was key in passing a bipartisan human services and policy bill that included investments to help those with mental health challenges and drug addictions. She also pushed for the passage of a bipartisan mental health standalone bill that included $100 million in badly needed spending.

A year ago, as just another example, her advocacy was key in the approval of a bipartisan omnibus bill that directed $700 million in federal relief for things like public health, drug abuse, mental health, homelessness, and public safety. The urgency demonstrated by Schultz and other lawmakers made Minnesota one of the first states to successfully allocate the federal funding.

Working behind the scenes and across the aisle, with a willingness to give and take, builds the sort of bipartisan relationships and support that get things done and that have helped build Schultz’s record.

Perhaps no legislation was more important during her four terms than the 2019 law to begin the state licensing of assisted-living facilities. Schultz helped carry the cause in the DFL House while Republican Sen. Karin Housley of Stillwater led the way in the Senate, producing a bill that created needed oversight and helped end years of horrific reports of abuse and inadequate care at far too many senior homes.

Meanwhile, in Congress, Stauber’s votes increasingly have become partisan rather than what’s in the best interest of Minnesota and his constituents. He voted against lowering pharmaceutical and insulin costs, against an independent investigation of Jan. 6, against equal pay, and against grants to make needed repairs to regional airports, as just a few examples. Despite voting against the airport grants, he attempted to publicly tout them anyway .

Mostly in news releases, Stauber repeatedly explains away such votes with political bombast about free-spending House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi, President Joe Biden, and the Democrats. Such rhetoric can be expected to a degree, especially on the national stage, and is easy to dismiss and ignore. But many of the votes, the congressman had to know, would pass anyway, leaving the impression he was more interested in being on the record for his party and base than for the people back home.

Stauber is no longer the same devoted representative northeastern Minnesota first sent to D.C. on our behalf in 2018. He’s become unresponsive to constituents and the media alike. He seems to only attend events populated by supporters. This fall he declined to participate in a candidate forum co-hosted by the Duluth News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, a forum that over a decade has become the pre-eminent election-season event for the 8th District, the best chance for voters to hear directly from candidates. This was the first time a candidate declined to participate. Stauber’s refusal to answer questions in a public setting and in the largest and most-populated city in his district seemed indicative of his disappointing but emerging party-first/constituents-second representation.

Stauber didn’t respond to a request for an interview for this editorial.

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In fairness, Schultz hasn’t been shy herself with anti-Republican political rhetoric. She’s remained civil, however, and respectful and responsive. There’s no reason to believe she wouldn’t continue to be those things as a member of the U.S. House, and voters can hold her to it in coming elections.

Beyond politics, those same voters can be impressed and can appreciate Schultz’s background as an economist, which helps to inform her public service and gives her expertise in important issues such as housing, child care, and health care. The result is better-informed and just better policy. Schultz is also co-director of the health care management program and a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She has a master's in economics from Washington State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Schultz is running to represent the 8th Congressional District, she wrote in a commentary for the Duluth News Tribune last month, “with a focus on strengthening our democracy.”

Voters on Nov. 8, or sooner via early voting, can give her that chance.

This endorsement represents the opinion of Forum Communications Co. management.

What To Read Next
From the editorial: "There’s a lack of political checks and balances in Minnesota right now that’s far from ideal."