ROCHESTER - Rep. Mike Benson (R-Rochester) officially announced Monday that he will challenge four-term incumbent Rep. Tim Walz for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District in 2014.
During his announcement in Rochester, Benson said he would focus on shrinking the economy, reducing federal regulation on states and improving the economy.
"This is not the United States I grew up in, and, with new representation, I believe that our country's best days are still ahead of us," said Benson.
Benson said he was motivated to run because of his concerns about the national debt and the consequences of federal mandates on the states.
He said the federal budget should only be passed if it tackles the trillions of dollars in U.S. debt, and that he is willing to make deep cuts to the federal departments of Education, Transportation, Energy and Internal Revenue Service.
He opposes tax increase unless they are revenue neutral. This belief is why he pushed for doubling the state tobacco tax during the Republican-majority control in 2011, but opposed the DFL-majority passage of the same proposal this year.
On the federal Farm Bill, he doubts Congress will pass the bill, but believes it has several elements vital for the 1st District. He said there needs to be a hard look at how many people rely on food stamps, but that reliance on food stamps should be solved by improving the economy enough that most people will not need the program.
On gun control, he said he opposes anything more than the current regulations. He said there is no evidence that further regulation will reduce gun violence incidents. He said the focus need to be on getting help to people who might commit a shooting to prevent the event.
On the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, he strongly opposes the legislation and would vote for repeal. However, he would incorporate elements of the bill, such as protecting people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to use their parents' insurance until age 26, into a better bill that would replace it.
For social issues, he supports traditional marriage, but feels the citizen of Minnesota have spoken when they voted down the Marriage Amendment. He is also pro-life.
Finally, he continues to support the Voter ID amendment that was defeated by Minnesota voters in the last election. He authored the version of the bill that was vetoed by Gov. Dayton, and he would be willing to introduce the bill again.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)