In the contest for the open seat in the Second Congressional District, one candidate stands out as a strong, pragmatic choice who can well represent both the district and Minnesota: Democrat Angie Craig.
A former executive and head of global human resources for St. Jude Medical, Craig knows the challenges U.S. businesses face, both here and abroad. She readily acknowledges that the private sector is where most jobs are and should be created, and that fiscal discipline is a high priority for her. But her tough-minded business sense is wedded to a deep concern for people rooted in her own story of having grown up in a trailer park and watching her mother struggle for 10 years to attain a college degree while caring for her children.
“I know how hard Americans will work to get better lives,” said Craig, 44. She understands the anxieties of those who find themselves working harder and still falling behind, who are trapped by low skills but lack the finances to pay for the education that could advance them.
A product of the business world, where relationships and flexibility are crucial, Craig decries the extreme partisanship that has dominated Congress, and says she would look for solutions on both sides. The beleaguered Affordable Care Act, she said, is crying out for such an approach. “The individual marketplace is in trouble,” she said. “Democrats have been too slow to admit significant problems with the ACA and the GOP won’t even have a discussion, they just say repeal, repeal.”
Craig said the original bill expanded access, but now costs must be tackled. She would work to broaden risk pools, allow negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry to bring down prescription-drug prices, and institute payment reforms that are tied to health outcomes rather than the volume of procedures and purchases. Craig notes that at St. Jude she was responsible for integrating 18 companies. “When you look for cost efficiencies,” she said, “you will find them.”
Importantly for this state, Craig says she would like to take a leadership role on efforts to combat homegrown terrorism, including working with U.S. Attorney Andy Luger to fully fund the federal Countering Violent Extremism program that helps local prevention efforts. Those efforts have been underfunded to date and are vital to a state that has one of the largest Somali communities in the country.
Republican challenger Jason Lewis has been an outsized personality for much of his time in Minnesota, once known statewide as “Mr. Right” when he hosted a radio talk show.
He supports Donald Trump and says he intends to vote for him. “No politician’s perfect,” Lewis said. “We’ll never have a saint.” That said, Lewis is knowledgeable on issues and says he is prepared to work across party lines. But his positions include simplistic across-the-board budget cuts and a moratorium on Syrian refugees. Of the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Lewis says, “We can’t solve every crisis.” He supports voter ID proposals, even though this state rejected them and evidence has grown that they work to suppress voting, particularly among minorities.
Craig describes herself as a fiscal moderate and social progressive who would tackle issues with an eye toward pragmatism and bipartisanship. She’s a good fit for a Second District that is changing both demographically and in its political leanings.