We were surprised two years ago when Mankato DFLer Tim Walz pulled an upset in the First District Congressional Race, unseating the 6-term incumbent, Rep. Gil Gutknecht, in what has traditionally been a conservative, Republican district.
We attributed his win, in large part to the anti-war sentiment at the time, but it was also clear that Walz had worked very, very hard for the win.
That hard work has continued since Walz went to Washington. Walz has been an energetic representative for the district, working on a variety of issues. He is a frequent visitor to the district, and uses the information he gets from back home to make legislation that better serves the people.
This was evident in his work on the Farm Bill. He requested, an got, several changes and measures added that made it a better bill for Minnesota farmers. He admits it is not a perfect bill, but a good compromise.
On military and veterans issues, Walz, a former Command Sergeant Major in the National Guard, has been a strong supporter of the troops, even as he opposed the conduct of the war. He went to bat to make sure Minnesota National Guard troops who served extra-long duty in Iraq were not deprived of their full benefits over a one-day discrepancy in their orders. He stood up for the wounded soldiers when unacceptable conditions were uncovered in the Walter Reed Army Hospital patient residences.
Walz is opposed by Republican nominee Brian Davis, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Davis has an interesting background as a nuclear engineer, and as a physician. He would probably have some interesting contributions to make on energy and health care issues.
But Davis has labored to tie Walz to the Democratic leadership. We think that effort is not too successful. While Walz's voting record, according to some rankings, puts him on a high percentage of votes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's positions, other ratings put him in the middle of the pack among liberals in the House. His recent vote against the economic bailout package went against the party line.
Fiscally, Walz firmly believes in the "pay as you go" philosophy of government spending. If the government increases spending in one area, it has to be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere or, if need be, a tax. It is an approach that Congress must adopt if runaway deficit spending is to be brought under control.
Walz says his first allegiance lies with the people of the First District, not with the Democratic leadership. We think he has worked hard for this district in his first term, and deserves a second.