U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer has ably represented Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District for the past four years and has matured into the type of leader the nation needs — someone who builds bridges with colleagues whose views differ from his own. He has earned our endorsement for a third term.
The warmer, more approachable leadership style is a welcome change from Emmer’s days as a fiery state legislator and gubernatorial candidate. It’s also savvy. Relationships are key to getting things done in politics, and it’s to Emmer’s credit that he has focused on forming that foundation during his first two terms.
To be sure, the congressman’s conservative bona fides are still firmly in place, which is clear from his voting record on spending, taxes and health care. These are issues on which the Editorial Board continues to have strong differences with him. But it’s also evident from the stories Emmer, 57, relishes telling of day-to-day life at the nation’s capitol that he respects all of his House colleagues and appreciates the chance to share a laugh across the aisle about the unavoidable absurdities in the political process.
A solid portfolio of bipartisan work backs up Emmer’s words. He’s continued to champion trade with Cuba — a position that has put him at odds with the Trump administration but in step with another well-known Cuba trade advocate, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Emmer and Klobuchar have also worked together on important legislation to help sexual assault victims. The Abby Honold Act, named for a young Minnesota woman who has become a courageous advocate for rape victims, would create a pilot program to better train investigators. The intent is to ensure that perpetrators are more likely to face charges. The Star Tribune’s “Denied Justice” news series, which examined how the justice system often fails sexual assault victims, has made it clear that reforms are imperative.
“Honestly, Tom and his staff have been great,” Abby Honold told an editorial writer. “He is very passionate about the bill, and his staff is always ready to help. They also have done a really impressive job, I think, of listening to people who disagree with them or disagree with the bill — there aren’t many, but they exist. I really appreciate their willingness to listen and try to carry the bill forward in a way that the most amount of people will benefit from.”
In addition, Emmer has built strong relationships with House Republican leadership. This influence allowed him to advocate successfully on behalf of a Minnesota business as the 2017 tax reform bill was finalized. Emmer also came to the aid of Minnesota legislators in 2017 when they pushed back against a misguided federal decision jeopardizing funds flowing to state health care programs. “He’s used to doing hard policy work and he knew we needed help,’’ said state Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake.
Emmer’s opponent is a young Democrat with significant promise — Ian Todd. A 28-year-old Air Force veteran who worked in intelligence, Todd is part of an impressive group of former service members who are running for higher office this year.
Todd has made campaign-finance reform, climate change and health care among his signature issues. He is an articulate advocate for all three, and is especially passionate about a Medicare-for-All plan to ensure all have affordable care.
Todd, an Arkansas native, is a newcomer both to Minnesota and politics and is determined to run again in 2020 should he lose this November. The Editorial Board would like to see him gain experience in a local or state office and become better acquainted with his new home state before he takes another run at a congressional seat.