A seasoned congressman skilled at representing his increasingly diverse and independent-minded district, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz has earned re-election to the U.S. House.
A veteran himself, Walz has been a strong, tough-minded voice for veterans, reaching across party lines to craft workable solutions that would improve transparency at the troubled Veterans Affairs agency and the hospitals so vital to ex-servicemen and women.
The teacher in Walz, 52, shines through in his careful preparation on the important topics he deals with, his ability to persuade through facts, and a passionate style that is optimistic and embracing, rather than nasty and divisive. Those skills will be invaluable in a House that is likely to be closely divided after this bruising election. Members who would rather extend their hands than score points will be best positioned to find the middle ground that moves the nation past extreme talking points and toward solutions.
Republican Jim Hagedorn, a staunch supporter of nominee Donald Trump, declined to meet with the Star Tribune Editorial Board. That is regrettable, but worse are the positions he has taken, which would be harmful to the district’s best interests. Hagedorn, 53, has engaged in misleading, fearmongering rhetoric, warning voters of the “migration of people in massive numbers to America from countries that hate America,” falsely accusing his opponent of wanting to relocate “the terrorists to Rochester,” and supporting a ban on immigrants from countries “that hate the United States.” That is incompatible with the small but growing numbers of law-abiding Muslims who live in fear of a backlash. This nation’s security is a paramount concern for all, but there are rational ways to improve it that do not foster hatred and violence against foreign-born Americans or refugees who come seeking safety and a new life.
In contrast, Walz takes a pragmatic approach to immigration reform that would combine tighter borders with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have contributed to the country through both work and taxes. Walz knows the Affordable Care Act is flawed, but would rather preserve what’s working and fix what’s not, instead of a repeal that would threaten the gains made.
Walz also strikes the right balance on gun issues. A strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an enthusiastic hunter, he nevertheless is unafraid to support common-sense measures such as the “no fly, no buy” rule that would prevent those on terror watch lists from purchasing firearms. “I refuse to believe there aren’t solutions,” he said.
More important, given another term, Walz said he wants to bear down on the problems in higher education. That includes not only skyrocketing student debt, but also the disconnect between postsecondary education and a job market that needs skilled workers.
Minnesota is fortunate to have such a smart, hardworking legislator with a balanced outlook. First District voters would be fortunate to have Walz for another term.