Terri Bonoff (DFL) sees the social issues she champions as business issues. She’s supported marriage equality, wants to fight man-made climate change, and wants regulations to prevent gun violence — all stances that she says are more in line with the constituents in her district that current Congressman Erik Paulsen (R), who she calls “an activist.”
Paulsen was co-author of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. “He called Roe v. Wade ‘a tragedy’,” says Bonoff of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion and a woman’s right to choose. “He got an award for trying to put the ban on gay marriage into the constitution after our third district resoundingly defeated that measure at the ballot box.” Bonoff says Paulsen has voted 26 times to prevent debate on gun violence prevention.
“They aren’t just social issues, particularly around attracting and recruiting top talent workforce,” Bonoff told The UpTake as she took a brief break from her daily grind of campaign appearances. “You look at what happened in North Carolina and Indiana when they tried to write the discriminatory policies into law that Erik has advocated for. Companies left those states. Those states are not strong economically as a result of those policies.”
Bonoff’s pro-business advocacy earned her the endorsement of the Twin West Chamber of Commerce in her campaigns for the Minnesota legislature, where she has served several terms in the Senate. But not so in her run for Congress. The chamber has endorsed Paulsen. Bonoff shrugs off the snub, saying voters could just check her fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and they’ll find many business executives are strongly supporting her candidacy.
“I’m on the same playing field with Paulsen on fiscal matters, but I deliver results on the big, big issues, and that I’m a better fit when it comes to tomorrow’s issues.”
Bonoff has been fighting an uphill battle to win the third district congressional seat that Paulsen has held for eight years. She entered the race late, and despite her 11 years in the legislature doesn’t have the name recognition Paulsen has. A recent KSTP-TV poll has her trailing Paulsen by double digits. She shrugs that off, too. “KSTP is notorious for putting out polls that perhaps I would say lean to the right,” citing other polls that show her much closer or slightly ahead. “So I believe this is a very, very close race.”
However, the same poll showed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump losing badly in the third congressional district. Bonoff’s campaign has been working hard to tie Paulsen to Trump — who has been dropping in the polls after making many statements that caused other Republicans to disavow him. For months, Paulsen wouldn’t say if he would support or vote for Trump. Paulsen finally announced he would not vote for Trump after the release of a recording where Trump made lewd comments about women and suggested he could grab a woman’s genitals because he was a reality TV star.
“It’s interesting to me that some tape where he degrades women is the straw for Congressman Paulsen now to say ‘oh I can’t vote for him’,” says Bonoff. “We need courageous leaders who put people first before their party.”
The UpTake has asked Paulsen’s campaign for an interview and he has not replied.