NEW ULM - With his campaign heading into its last few days, First District Republican congressional candidate Randy Demmer feels optimistic about his chances of unseating DFL Rep. Tim Walz.
He hasn't conducted polls to check his progress, but Demmer feels the message he has been spreading during his campaign is resonating with the people.
"The feeling I get when I'm out talking to people all summer long, the more I've had a chance to meet people, the more they knew about an alternative, the more they were aware specifically of the congressman's votes, the more support I've felt. People say absolutely, they don't want this."
Demmer said he takes it as a good sign that the National Democratic Party and the Democratic National Congressional Committee have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past couple of weeks in support of Walz, and attacking Demmer.
"He has twice the money we have in our campaign, and yet they are coming in, and of course they come with the attack ads, things they want to pretend the congressman doesn't support.
"But we know from them having to do that, that this is an extremely tight race."
Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney
Republican congressional candidate Randy Demmer speaks to supporters at The Ulmer Cafe in New Ulm on Saturday morning.
Demmer said his campaign has managed to close the gap on Walz by focusing on his record and the differences in their philosophies.
"That's the problem in Washington right now," Demmer said to a group of supoprters at the Ulmer Cafe in New Ulm Saturday. "Congressman Walz has been supporting a model that says government is what't more important, government can make choices for us, government can make decisions, because for some reason we don't trust the market to make choices, we don't trust that people can make choices for themselves."
Demmer said Walz's vote on Cap and Trade legislation is an example. Demmer said Walz claims Cap and Trade is "some kind of energy policy. It's not energy policy, it's government saying, 'We're going to redistribute some income around, and we believe you should pay more for your energy, and if you give us more money, we'll find a way to be more productive and more energy efficient.'"
Government takeover of the health care industry is another example of government saying it knows what's best for people, said Demmer.
Demmer accused the Walz campaign of creating fear among the elderly by claiming Demmer wants to take their Social Security. Demmer denies having any such plan, and thinks it "shameful" that Walz and the national groups supporting him keep trying to creative divisiveness by scaring the elderly.
Demmer said Walz is "lying when he says he will never vote to spend money that we don't have. He already has! He has supported the deficit budgets, the stimulus packages, that are driving up this deficit."
Demmer urged Republicans to work in the next few days to get out the vote, to get their friends and family to go to the polls and vote for the candidates who share their values and philosophies.
Walz, meanwhile, rallied volunteers in Rochester before stopping at a Waseca coffee shop and continuing on to Mankato. There, the former high school teacher visited the Wagon Wheel, a classic diner, joking with the servers and bumping fists with owner Kevin Haefner as Haefner fried strips of bacon in the back. Walz wore a camouflage baseball cap that said, "Tim Walz, NRA Endorsed."
Like Demmer, Walz said his campaign is working to turn out every possible vote.
The national parties and other outside groups have spent more than $1.2 million on the race, about two-thirds of it going to defeat Walz. He has struck back with ads criticizing Demmer, a businessman and former farmer running on an anti-spending platform, for receiving farm subsidies and tax breaks for economic development projects.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.