Jeff Erdmann and Angie Craig made their best pitches to DFLers this week, hoping to win their votes in an endorsement battle that begins with the precinct caucuses on February 6. On Monday in Northfield,the two candidates for congress in Minnesota’s 2nd district answered questions for about 90 minutes on hot-button issues from immigration to health care. They agreed on many issues, perhaps making it a difficult choice for DFL activists. Both have agreed not to run in a primary if the other candidate gets the endorsement.
Erdmann is a political newcomer. In his first forum, the teacher/football coach from Rosemount read prepared answers to questions. This time he did not. Craig is a veteran of one political campaign. In 2016, the former journalist/health care executive lost against Republican Jason Lewis by less than two percentage points in a three-way race.
Craig aimed many of her comments at people who were not in the room — Lewis and President Donald Trump. “The President’s comments this weekend were indefensible and they were racist,” said Craig about Trump’s reported “shithole countries” remark that was aimed at immigrants from African nations. “And I called that out and I will continue to call that out when I see it and I think we all should.” On immigration she says the system is broken and people will go around the system. Dreamers — children of parents who brought them to this country illegally — “they deserve a path to citizenship,” said Craig.
Erdmann agreed with Craig on immigration policy and said our economy needs immigrants because infrastructure projects and clean energy industries will be creating jobs faster than U.S. citizens can fill them. “We are at 4% unemployment right now. We’re going to need to bring people in to create, to go after and fill those jobs. So I think we need to absolutely expand our work visa program so that we are prepared to make sure we can accommodate those jobs.”
United Against Lewis, GOP Tax Cut- Full Forum Video And Interviews
Video at top: Jeff Erdmann and Angie Craig answer questions at a DFL candidates forum.
Video below: Interviews with Craig and Erdmann
Both candidates found fault with the just-passed tax cut bill that Lewis supported. “I’d repeal the whole thing,” said Craig. “I’m not kidding. This legislation may go down as the worst piece of legislation in the history of this country.“ In the 1980s when Republicans and President Ronald Reagan implemented a similar tax cut for the rich, Craig said nothing trickled down to her and her family who were living in a mobile home park. “So we know trickle down economics does not work.” She said the main beneficiaries of the Republican tax law are large corporations and really rich people.
“The income inequality in our nation has to be addressed and we’re the party that needs to address it,” said Erdmann of the Republican tax cut. He would eliminate what’s called the “carried interest” deduction that allows “people who move paper around for rich people” (otherwise known as hedge fund managers) who are paid millions of dollars to pay a lower tax rate than the middle class. He also advocates for returning the estate tax to the level it was before Republicans changed it.
Erdmann wants to see the U.S. go to a single payer health care system, “like Medicare for all, so that all people can have high quality affordable care.” He would rather see that than the current Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. “The Affordable Care Act is not and will never be affordable no matter what we do to it,” said Erdmann. He says in single payer systems such as Canada’s and the United Kingdom’s, $5,000 will buy full coverage and full access for one person. In the U.S., he says the cost for health care rises to $10,000 per person and is only partial coverage with limited access.
Craig, who has worked in the health care industry, was less specific on what the solution to health care is. “I absolutely support getting to universal health care,” said Craig. “But I also believe if you think there is only one way to get there, you will never get there.“ Craig said the real problem in health care was the cost. “What I support is getting after the cost of health care in this country. And that means finally reining in the cost of pharmaceutical drugs and supplies, allowing Medicare to negotiate pricing, stabilizing the ACA and making sure that we are on the path to universal health care.”
You can watch the entire candidates forum in the video above.
6:16 Jeff Erdmann opening statement
9:39 Angie Craig opening statement
12:50 Will you abide by the DFL endorsement?
13:19 How does your professional career impacts your candidacy? How has it prepared you to run as a candidate?
17:57 How do you welcome immigrants to Minnesota and address the broken immigration system in Washington?
22:05 Do you believe that undocumented immigrants should have a path to US citizen ship?
25:06 – Our local unemployment rate low. What would you do to raise wages?
31:23 – Homelessness and wages
35:54 – Will you sign on to legislation to allow strikes without fear of being replaced, fired or locked out?
39:02 – Organic standards for agriculture
42:55 – What is federal role in agriculture?
45:19 – New tax bill – what action should congress do to fix it?
53:16- How to reduce greenhouse gasses and still have economic growth?
57:09 – Land conservation
59:29 – Sulfide mining
1:02:27 – How to protect clean water?
1:04:55 How to make health care affordable for all? Single Payer, private insurers or something else?
1:09:26 – what is your top priority for adjusting the ACA and why?
1:13:05 What’s the federal role in education?
1:16:51 Preparing workforce for the future?
1:21:18 – Voters rights- citizenship question on census, what’s the implication of this request?
1:24:27 NAACP says African Americans incarcerated at five times of white citizens. what are the causes and how would you fix it?
1:28:26 Angie Craig closing statement
1:31:15 Jeff Erdmann closing statement
Interview with Angie Craig
Interview with Jeff Erdmann