Republican Erik Paulsen an impressive advocate in first term.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen didn't win this newspaper's endorsement when he first ran two years ago in Minnesota's Third Congressional District. He's earned it this fall by becoming a strong champion for the medical device industry and developing a reputation as a hardworking lawmaker who does his homework and tackles complex issues.
Paulsen has also developed a reputation for collegiality, though recent attack ads on underfunded Democratic challenger Jim Meffert did Paulsen no favors. Paulsen and those running ads on his behalf would have been far better off highlighting his impressive freshman term instead of harshly criticizing a barely visible opponent.
Paulsen's west-metro Twin Cities district is home to many small- and medium-sized medical device companies. Paulsen gets high marks for frequent visits to their facilities and for his in-depth understanding of the complex financial and regulatory issues they grapple with. To address concerns about coming regulatory changes, he held a field hearing for industry and federal officials.
In Congress, Paulsen became the co-chair of the Medical Technology Caucus and worked to expand its membership. He didn't support the federal health reform bill but worked with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar to cut the proposed tax on the medical device industry by half.
Paulsen's done good work on many other issues. He deserves praise for a creative response to the struggling economy: hosting job fairs. He collaborated with Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz on a nuclear energy measure. Over Republican House leadership objections, he voted for the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which preserves U.S. manufacturing jobs. Paulsen's recent score from the National Journal, which rates politicians' partisanship, indicates he's a strong conservative but not an ideologue.
Meffert, a lobbyist, impressed the Editorial Board with his wide-ranging knowledge during a recent interview. He's a worthy candidate -- one who should continue seeking opportunities for public service. Paulsen, however, is the strongest candidate for the Third District.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.