Anoka County Board chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah launched her congressional campaign Wednesday, saying she is “uniquely qualified” to take the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
“Washington is full of people who talk and talk and talk,” said Sivarajah, who announced her candidacy in an auto body shop repair bay, flanked by family, friends, flags and a pickup truck hoisted aloft in the background.” We need to send people there who will actually deliver real results.”
She is the second Republican to jump into the race since Bachmann and her 2012 DFL challenger, Jim Graves, ended their 2014 campaigns. Talk radio host and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer announced his candidacy last week. Environmental activist Judy Adams is the first DFLer to announce a bid in the Sixth, generally considered the most conservative congressional district in Minnesota.
Sivarajah has been a County Board member since 2003 and chairwoman since 2011.
This will be the second time she and Emmer have squared off in an election. Sivarajah was the running mate to Marty Seifert, Emmer’s rival for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial endorsement. She said she would seek the Republican endorsement in the congressional race but has not decided whether she would continue her campaign if she is not the party’s endorsed candidate.
“I’ve been able to make positive changes at Anoka County, and I think I can bring the same sort of positive change to Washington as well,” she told reporters after her announcement in Ham Lake. “I look at my kids, and they’re not going to have the same bright future that previous generations have had.”
Those changes include ending the prevailing wage for county-funded construction projects “to encourage competition and lower costs,” said Jeff Matt, owner of Victory Auto Services, who introduced the candidate Wednesday. He also credited her with working to cut Anoka County property taxes in 2011 and 2012.
“Washington is broken, but it’s not enough to just talk about it,” Sivarajah said. “It’s time to do something about it … and I am uniquely qualified to get the job done.”
State DFL Chair Ken Martin issued a statement blasting Sivarajah’s tenure on the County Board, saying she worked to cut services and programs during the recession, just when Anoka County residents needed them most.
“This anti-government government official has served the interests of the tea party, rather than the people who elected her to office,” Martin said. “Rhonda Sivarajah has long been a voice of dissent in efforts to move Anoka County forward. She would bring the same style of leadership to Washington.”
Sivarajah lives in Lino Lakes with her husband, Ran, and their teenage children.
“My husband immigrated to this country because it offered freedom, hope and opportunity,” she said. “With the growing debt and the erosion of our freedoms, unfortunately, our children will not enjoy the same. … Instead of giving us real solutions and new direction, Washington continues to give us more and more of the same.”
Sivarajah is campaigning for the seat of one of the most colorful members of Congress. Her own style, she said, is very different from Bachmann’s.
“I can tell you that you probably would have a pretty dull life as media,” Sivarajah said, laughing. “I think we have a lot of the same core beliefs. I think the difference is maybe in the approach.”