Candidate says she’ll stand up for what she and her constituents believe in
Although a casual observer might think that the home stretch of the 2018 election campaign is a grueling, exhausting grind for candidates hoping to be elected on Nov. 6, Karin Housley, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota currently held by Democrat Tina Smith, said she wishes the campaign wouldn’t end.
“It’s good, it feels really, really good on the ground,” Housley said during a visit to the Times on Oct. 26 prior to her appearing at RBJ’s Restaurant. “It really feels like people are excited to keep the economy going and get some new voices in Washington, D.C.”
Housley, 54, who for the last six years has represented District 39 in the Minnesota Senate, encompassing the eastern Twin Cities suburbs into the St. Croix River valley, said she’s never been afraid to stand up for her constituents and she’s never been avoid to voice her disagreement with party leadership on various issues. Although she agrees with much of President Donald Trump’s agenda, Housley said she’ll stand up to him as well when she feels it’s necessary.
“If policies came down from leadership and they said vote for it, if (the policies) didn’t work with the voices of my district, I would tell them; I’m not afraid to stand up to them, or the president,” she said. “I disagreed with people separating kids at the border; it’s just not a good idea. This is about representing the people of Minnesota, not just being a Republican telling people how to think. People say politics is top-down, but I think it should be bottom-up.”
Here’s a rundown of Housley’s thoughts on issues that came up during her chat at the Times:
• Trump’s tariffs and the trade war: Housley said she’s pleased that Trump was able to listen to farmers and get a re-worked NAFTA deal as a result. “(Trump’s) negotiating style is not like anything we’ve ever seen before, but he’s getting things done,” she said. “We need to continue to let the president negotiate. He’ll get China on board sooner rather than later.”
In regard to the tariffs, Housley echoes what other Republican candidates have been saying, that the farmers they’ve spoken with are struggling now as a result of the tariffs, but they understand that the pain in the short-term will be worth it if improved trade agreements help them over the long-term. “They know trade has been unfair for so long, and now they know someone is tackling the issue,” she said. “They didn’t ask for $12 billion in aid, they want new markets. They don’t plan six months out, they plan five, 10 years out. They want a long-term solution.”
Housley stressed that farmers can’t be asked to suffer for long, however. “I said to the president, this has to be sooner, not later,” she said.
• Immigration: Housley said she’s “on board” with securing the borders. “It’s extremely important that we know who’s here, and that we don’t let people come in without knowing the process,” she said. “…Opening up the borders so everyone can come in, that’s not what people want here. We want the best and brightest to come here. …If they want to come here and work, then come.”
But, citing “tent communities” in the Twin Cities metro area, Housley added, “We can’t even take care of the people we have here.”
• Bipartisanship: Housley said in her time in the Minnesota Senate, she was part of a group of 12 legislators called “The Sensibles.”
“We’d get our noses dirty and get things done, both Democrats and Republicans, and move good legislation for the people of Minnesota,” she explained, adding she would take a similar approach in the U.S. Senate. “I’m a new voice from Minnesota, a small business person, a mom. I’m just a normal person with common sense,” Housley said.
• Health care: Housley would like to “open it up” so people can buy health insurance across state lines, similar to car insurance. Government-run health care would take away people’s choices. “We need providers to be more transparent and reduce costs,” she said. “People need to know what the costs are before they get services, not after.”
Asked about the profit motive in the pharmaceutical industry hindering any significant reform, Housley said competition is the only thing that drives costs down, and it’s preferred to the government setting prices.