It should have been an easy decision to endorse Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen again, as we did in 2010. Paulsen has proven himself a hard worker in his two terms in the U.S. House. He's landed an influential committee assignment and built bipartisan coalitions to fight Asian carp in Minnesota and to pass regulatory and tax reforms for medical device firms.
He's also a collegial member of the GOP -- a guy who avoids Fox News shouting matches and is an adult in the room on hard votes. Paulsen was one of just four members of the state's House delegation to cast an unpopular if highly responsible "yes" vote on raising the debt ceiling in 2011.
But a combination of an impressive opponent in Democrat Brian Barnes and Paulsen's weak advocacy on several key issues raised serious concerns for the Editorial Board. Paulsen gets our endorsement, but he's got work to do. A probusiness member of Congress should be an advocate-in-chief for the transportation project that would run through his west-metro district and is strongly supported by local cities as well as by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations' presidents have testified that the 15-mile Southwest Corridor light-rail line is needed to support 60,000 new jobs by 2030.
Paulsen seemed less than informed when asked about the project. Our questions were met with muddled responses about the need for further cost analysis. The reality is that there's already substantial data about the project. Paulsen's stance on this should be as unequivocal as it is on medical-device issues.
Paulsen, 47, also needs to leverage his med-tech expertise and become a strong advocate for medical-research funding -- a part of the federal budget under threat from thoughtless spending cuts. Barnes, a business executive, is an eloquent, well-informed projobs centrist Democrat. This is his first run for office. We hope to see his name again on a future ballot.
To read more Editorial Board endorsements, go here.