In its endorsement for Congress from Minnesota’s Third District (“Dean Phillips is a fresh voice,” Oct 27), the Star Tribune Editorial Board rightly recognized Erik Paulsen’s record of bipartisan accomplishments, his willingness to break from his own party on important issues and Erik’s bipartisan work on sex trafficking and opioids. But the board missed the mark in the rest of its analysis.
Washington is full of show horses, but Erik is a workhorse. The reason he is effective is because of his bipartisan, pragmatic approach to problem-solving and his compassion in helping those in need.
When a new tax on medical devices went into effect, Erik went to work. He knew it threatened one of Minnesota’s greatest success stories — medical technology — by killing jobs and sending lifesaving innovation overseas. He led the charge to repeal this onerous tax by garnering the support of hundreds of his colleagues with huge bipartisan votes that have received the signatures of both Republican and Democratic presidents.
This was achieved through listening and hard work.
It was disappointing to see the Editorial Board believes the partisan myth that Erik has been inaccessible. Erik has held virtually every form of constituent engagement possible: 23 telephone town hall meetings, three in-person town hall meetings, well over 150 constituent meetings, multiple Congress on Your Corner events, more than 60 community forums and roundtable events, as well as open office hours available to all constituents. And this is just in the last two years.
In 2013, after the Star Tribune published a series of articles illuminating the horrific reality of sex trafficking in our communities, Paulsen took the articles to congressional leaders and demanded action.
What followed were a number of bipartisan initiatives that are saving lives and ensuring that victims of this disgusting crime are treated as victims and not criminals. Erik fought to give law enforcement more tools to combat sex trafficking and helped pass laws crippling websites like backpage.com that facilitate this evil. Partisans are quick to dismiss this work, yet virtually everyone agrees sex trafficking is a vile crime; yet it was a cause that needed a champion in Congress. It found one in Erik Paulsen.
Erik consistently shows his ability to work across the aisle and stand up to his own party. He is ranked No. 1 in the entire Congress in getting cosponsors on his bills, and ranked third in the entire Congress in getting bipartisan cosponsors. In fact, Erik was one of only 34 members of Congress to get a bill signed into law during the contentious 2016 election year.
Acting against the party leadership, Erik signed a discharge petition to successfully force action on common-sense immigration reforms to protect young DACA recipients and family separation at the border. And Erik is standing up to protect Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.
In a bitterly divided time in American politics, Erik Paulsen has proved to be a smart and effective legislator, to the benefit of his constituents and Minnesota. Erik produced tangible results by getting exemptions on fairly traded products from the administration’s tariff policies that threaten Minnesota jobs in the medical device and consumer electronic sectors. This helps Minnesota consumers and some of Minnesota’s largest employers, like Medtronic, Best Buy and Target.
Lastly, as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, Paulsen helped write tax reform that helps people in real ways. It has led to an economic boom, boosting paychecks for the vast majority of Americans and bringing unemployment to record lows.
The Editorial Board missed the mark in its endorsement. I know this firsthand because Erik was a key member of my staff for many years and I don’t know of anyone in politics with more integrity and compassion for people. He’s effective, he’s a listener and he has proved the ability to get results for the betterment of Minnesota. He’s done all that in extremely challenging times and deserves to continue being our voice in Congress.
Jim Ramstad represented Minnesota’s Third Congressional District from 1991 to 2009.