“This is no longer a time to sit on the sidelines,” says Dean Phillips, the DFL-endorsed candidate running against Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN). “It’s a time to participate.” Phillips is encouraging that participation at his Excelsior “conversation cottage,” otherwise known as his campaign office in this western Minneapolis suburban swing district.
Phillips says President Donald Trump’s election “activated” him to get involved in politics and ultimately launch his campaign for congress. He says a lot of people are getting involved for the same reason, with more than a thousand volunteering for his campaign.
“This administration may prove to be a blessing to this country as long as we, the people, take advantage of this opportunity and engage. And that’s happened.”
Phillips says “grave concern about the character of this president” is a unifying issue in Minnesota’s third district. People are “appalled” that children are “being held hostage as political bait,” referring to Trump’s policy that separated migrant children from their parents as a way to spur immigration reform. “We need comprehensive immigration reform,” says Phillips. But he says it need to be “welcoming” and “thoughtful.” He says we need to “ensure that we have laws in place and that we enforce them.”
Minnesota Way pledge
In 2016, Paulsen asked the Democrat who was running against him to sign what he called “the People’s Pledge” which would help eliminate special interest spending by pledging to match dollar-for-dollar that spending on a candidate’s behalf with a contribution to the charity of the candidate’s choosing. Phillips says he’ll sign that pledge if Paulsen also agrees to two more conditions. First, to reject and return all special interest contributions — including from PACs, federal lobbyists and members of Congress — and refrain from self-financing campaigns. Second, to commit to running an accessible campaign, including a minimum of twice-monthly forums or other public events between now and Election Day.
Phillips, a multi-millionaire, has said he will not self-finance his campaign if Paulsen agrees to the same. Paulsen has been criticized for holding very few pre-announced open public meetings with his constituents. He recently held his first ones in seven years.
Phillips signed The Minnesota Way Pledge on April 19, 2018; so far, Erik Paulsen has declined to sign — although in response to a question at Paulsen’s recent town hall he indicated he may be considering it.
At his conversation cottage, Phillips says Trump’s attempts to weaken the Affordable Care Act is at the top of every conversation he has with voters. Rep. Paulsen has voted repeatedly to repeal the ACA.
Phillips is also asked if elected, would he vote to impeach Trump. “I will wait until the Mueller investigation concludes. That is the appropriate and legal thing to do. If the evidence indicates criminal activity took place, and this president was aware, it is the responsibility of the US House to act on that.”