As I have been out meeting the residents of Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake and Eagan the past few months, rarely does anyone want to know if I am a Republican or a Democrat.
Most people simply want to know my values, beliefs and how I will work to fight for their interests as their representative. People do not care for partisan fights and gridlock while the state budget and debt continue to balloon!
In a recent blog post, I questioned what “bipartisan” means to Rep. Atkins. His big claim to fame is all the “bipartisan legislation” which he has been a part of passing in the Minnesota House. This claim is something he really wants you, the voter, to remember on Nov. 6 when you enter your polling location, and is a distortion of his full voting record.
All of these laws are well intentioned, but none of them deal with runaway government in Minnesota.
From Rep. Atkins’ comments on my blog posts, you will see his attempt to back up his claims with a standard list of legislation he has produced, which garnered enough support from both political parties to be passed. Most of these bills enjoy wide support because of their common sense topic or intent; not because Rep. Atkins has had to work hard to convince “the other side” to join him in supporting them.
In fact, many are nothing more than carbon copies of legislation passed in other states; the “author” of an identical bill here in Minnesota certainly shouldn’t take intellectual credit.
Let’s take the “Fire Safety” legislation for example. By 2011, 49 states had passed laws that cigarettes must have chemicals added to them to self-extinguish if they are left unattended. These are not advances that originated with Mr. Atkins. Every state except Wyoming had passed similar laws.
In fact, most cigarette companies now only produce the additional chemical-laced, fire-safe cigarettes. Even Wyoming received the “safe” cigarettes before even they passed the same generic legislation. In the words of President Obama, Mr. Atkins, “You didn’t build that; someone else made that happen for you.”
I don’t believe that political party affiliation is the culprit for our dysfunctional government in St. Paul, but I do think that the House Caucuses of both the GOP and DFL may be where the problems begin. Back in April 2011, I read an open letter from Rep. Mark Buesgens on this very subject, and this is what he had to say:
“Today a caucus looks to the latest survey and/or opinion poll to guide its direction. Armed with a collection of statistics, charts and graphs, leadership develops policies and strategies that cater to the perceived will of the majority in an effort to show that we are receptive to their bidding. The strongly held belief is that this is a “tried-and-true” method of ensuring a majority. And if the latest survey clashes with principles on a given issue, either the issue is buried or a caucus uses spurious logic to make the issue somehow fit espoused values.”
I am not the prototypical candidate for the House Caucus. In many districts in Minnesota, the Caucuses are very active not only in recruiting candidates to run, but ensuring the hand picked candidate receives the endorsement of the local party.
They support their candidates with independent expenditures and staffers to help them win in the general election. My campaign is 100% grassroots and it always will be.
Unlike Rep. Atkins, who is part of the DFL House Caucus, I will be an independent voice to represent you. I will be the true definition of bipartisan, because I do not need to “reach across the aisle”, compromising my principles, to accomplish good things. I pledge to work with any legislator who wants to limit the scope of government in our lives and bring Minnesota back to some economic sanity.
To me, that is the true definition of bipartisan.
What has the current expression of ”bipartisanship” brought to our state? Both parties are responsible for the explosion of Minnesota’s spending budget and debt load, since Atkins was elected. That is not the kind of reaching across the aisle you can expect from me.
Joe Atkins was there for every penny of those increases. His vote could have been one of dissent each and every time. Atkins’ “leadership,” which he espouses on all of the bipartisan bills he has helped to pass, could have been used to deal with the structural budget problems we have in Minnesota.
I expect my representative to stand up to runaway government spending and be accountable to me, the taxpayer, for every penny of my money that the legislature spends.
I expect that my representative to fight against amassing debt on the state’s credit card. This is what I have expected Joe Atkins to do and he has not. That is a simple fact. His votes on these Omnibus Bonding Bills show that he is not the man who will stand up for me.
This is the reason I am running to replace him, and why I ask you to stand with me.
When we live free, we live better. As your representative, I will live free as well—free from special interest lobbyists, free from a House Caucus system that prioritizes party power ahead of the interests of the people.
When I take the oath of office, I won’t be obligated to be a team player. I will stand on principle every day, and cast every vote on your behalf to protect your liberty, your property and the fruits of your labor.