Saturday, November 1, 2008

A look at the First District issues: Owatonna People's Press

Jeff Cagle
Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008 9:45 pm

OWATONNA — When Tim Walz ran against then-Congressman Gil Gutknecht two years ago for the First Congressional District, he was only able to capture 46 percent of the Steele County votes as opposed to the 54 percent his opponent garnered.

But with one term under his belt, Walz is betting that he can have a better showing in the Republican-leaning county and is confident he’ll do well against his Republican opponent Brian Davis, a physician from Mayo Clinic.“I think people know what kind of leadership I provide, and I’m hoping we improve upon that turnout last time that we did,” Walz said.

The freshman congressman touts his accomplishments for the county as including federal funding for Highway 14 and flood mitigation in Owatonna. Walz also has made numerous stops in Owatonna — appearing at Owatonna High School, a local trucking company and a grocery store.

The Walz campaign also boasts one of the largest grassroots organizations as they campaign for re-election bid.Davis, for his part, has been running television and radio ads, along with making some campaign stops and other events. Though he hasn’t made as many stops in Owatonna, Davis believes this to be a closer race than what people may believe.

“I can tell you when my opponent is spending $800,000, we know what he knows and that this is a tight race,” Davis said.Greg Mikkelson of Lake Crystal is an Independence Party candidate making a third run for the U.S. House. He previously ran in 2004 and again in 2002, but earned less than 5 percent of the vote, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.

With just four days to go before the election, here’s a look at where the candidates stand on some of the issues affecting Steele County.


• Davis supports making the tax cuts from the Bush administration permanent. He also favors getting rid of the estate tax and capital gains tax, and to put a cap on federal spending.

• Walz supports tax cuts for the middle class and introduced the Middle Class Fairness Act in May, arguing it would help the average taxpayers save hundreds of dollars.

Walz also voted against the $700 billion bailout package twice. Davis said he would have done the same thing.


• Walz supports offshore oil drilling, along with finding ways to promote wind, solar and other alternative energy. He is also one of a few members of Congress who proposed recent legislation that promotes more offshore drilling, but for oil companies to fund renewable energy research and conservation.

• Davis supports an “all of the above” policy that would allow for more drilling and expand the use of alternative energy. He also favors nuclear power and said he could offer some expertise about nuclear energy citing his academic background in nuclear engineering.

Health Care

• Davis believes the U.S. has the greatest health care system in the world, but that it doesn’t work well for every citizen. He believes private markets should determine insurance rates, not the government. He also supports promoting a cost-benefit analysis at the federal level by promoting preventative medicine procedures.

• Walz favors making health care more affordable and accessible by promoting preventative care for everyone. He is unsure about going into a single-payer health system.Transportation• Walz has worked on Highway 14 legislation and has been able to secure at least $500,000 for road improvements.

He would also like to see an expansion of rail lines throughout the state, arguing it would make the country more efficient, but also create jobs.

• Davis said Highway 14 is impractical to drive on currently and would consider it the most important transportation issue he would improve. He would secure funding “any way possible” whether it’s a stand alone bill or through federal earmarks.

Jeff Cagle can be reached at 444-2378.