The scene plays out every day in Washington, D.C. Democrats propose legislation and it’s attacked by Republicans as being too expensive and too much government. Republicans offer their vision and Democrats characterize it as mean-spirited or a giveaway to the rich. Party-line votes mean little progress and leave citizens with a sense of despair and loss of confidence in government.

Most political leaders seem oblivious to the anger and frustration felt by citizens in Minnesota and throughout the country. Good people — and there are many decent, well-intentioned Republicans and Democrats — are elected to serve in Washington, but then are overwhelmed by the partisan rancor and discord. We are living the definition of a broken system.

I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Tina Smith because I believe that in order for things to change, someone has to be the change. I am running as a true independent, unaffiliated with any political party.

One independent senator acting alone can’t change everything. But add my strong voice to those of independents like Maine’s Sen. Angus King and to the thoughtful Democratic and Republican senators who honestly are looking for common ground, and true change will happen. In fact, the reforms needed to make politicians more accountable and cooperative won’t happen without pressure from independents.

My independent voice, while rational and thoughtful, will not be shy. My life demonstrates independent thinking and action, sometimes at a painful cost. Being independent does not mean acting alone. In both success and failure, at the highest levels of competition in sports and business, I have learned that nothing important gets done without teamwork and cooperation. Who doesn’t know this? Yet, it takes guts to be independent and not follow the pack.

My campaign isn’t based on a laundry list of promises. Minnesota and the nation desperately need campaigns that focus on the essence of governance and representative democracy. Candidates owe voters a clear statement of the principles by which they will govern. Issues will change; principles are constant. They define us.

Here are my principles of governance:

• Government is a better guarantor of rights and opportunities than a direct provider of services. I trust the private sector to do the things it does best. I also believe government must have a strong role in assuring that individual rights are protected.

• Government should create a level playing field that allows the incredible innovation and energy of Americans to succeed. A good example is the Americans with Disabilities Act. It took innovation and bipartisan consensus for Congress in 1990 to recognize that some Americans were being denied access to America’s opportunities because of their disabilities. The solution created wasn’t perfect, but it started to improve the world for millions of our fellow citizens. That’s the kind of leadership we need today.

• Government also must be a trusted partner for people at times in their lives when they are vulnerable. Nothing is stronger than the American belief in the ability of everyone to achieve success through hard work. We can’t undermine that ethic. But we also can’t ignore that there are times in the lives of some people when they need a helping hand. We the people through our collective compassion should be there for people. By the way, my observation of most wealthy people is that they agree.

• The more transparent government is, the better people are served. Too much of government’s work is done in the dark, making it easier for big money and special interests to influence outcomes. My campaign will not accept any PAC contributions and I will fight for efforts to make government more open and more inclusive.

These are the principles on which I will be campaigning. It won’t be a typical campaign of attack ads. I am committed to running a positive campaign, free of the negative ads that serve only to denigrate opponents and degrade the thoughtfulness of voters. I would not be in this race if I didn’t think I would win. I recently announced my campaign with an aggressive, statewide advertising campaign in broadcast and print media.

I truly love the gift of being an American and am fully committed to this campaign. I look forward to meeting you in your community.


Jerry Trooien, of Mendota Heights, is an investor and an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate (