Up in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District (northern Minnesota, including the Iron Range and Duluth), 18-term incumbent Democratic porkmeister Jim Oberstar is in the race of his life against Republican challenger Chip Cravaack. The Eighth Congressional District is Democratic territory. No Republican challenger has previously come within shouting distance of Oberstar; he has never won less than 59 percent of the vote.
In Duluth today Oberstar met Cravaack for a debate in which Oberstar was not eager to engage. For weeks Oberstar refused to confirm his participation. After the Duluth News Tribune published an editorial highlighting Oberstar’s refusal to explain his record to voters, Oberstar announced that he would participate. His decision preceded an internal Cravaack campaign poll that placed Cravaack within three points of Oberstar.
The venue was moved twice to accommodate the crowd of 1,800 that attended the debate at the Duluth Convention Center. Cravaack supporters turned out in force. The report of the Duluth News Tribune highlights the raucous nature of the throng. Cravaack suporters could not have been disappointed with this:
When asked what their first priority would be if elected to Congress, Republican Cravaack said he would “get rid of Obamacare” to shouts of glee and applause from his supporters.
The Cravaack campaign has issued this colorful press release:
At a debate today, 18-term incumbent Congressman Jim Oberstar boastfully defended his record of wasteful run-away spending which has caused our nation’s debt to skyrocket. Conversely, Chip Cravaack laid out his vision for a better Minnesota and more prosperous America. In front of an energized crowd of more than 1,800 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, Cravaack explained his plan to create jobs, stop tax hikes, and eliminate pork-barrel spending in Washington.
“It’s disappointing that Congressman Oberstar once again showed how out of touch he is with Minnesotans in the eighth district,” said Cravaack, a 24-year Navy veteran. “His behavior today is what’s wrong with Washington and why Minnesotans believe Congressman Oberstar has lost his way.”
Throughout the debate, Congressman Oberstar repeatedly scolded those in attendance. In fact, he shouted to audience members who disagreed with him and arrogantly called them “members of the Flat Earth Society.” When asked about the stimulus, Congressman Oberstar repeatedly said “the federal government creates jobs.” When asked about ObamaCare, he angrily pointed at the audience claiming their health care is better after this law. When asked about his steadfast support for the cap-and-trade national energy tax and America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act, Congressman Oberstar replied: “If you want clean water, join the Supreme Court.”
During the spirited debate, Cravaack explained to a standing ovation that the federal government does not create jobs, the private sector does. Regarding ObamaCare, Cravaack said repealing this fatally-flawed law would be one of his top priorities in Congress. And Cravaack assured the audience he would oppose the job-killing cap-and-trade national energy tax.
When asked about his vote in September to adjourn for the year – which failed to allow a vote to stop a massive $3.9 trillion job-killing tax increase on all Americans on Jan. 1, 2011 – Congressman Oberstar erroneously denied it.
“Congressional Republicans and more than 30 House Democrats were calling for a vote to extend the tax cuts for working families and small businesses yet Congressman Oberstar voted to adjourn, which left the $3.9 trillion tax increase on the table,” Cravaack said. “The tax hikes Congressman Oberstar voted for would adversely impact 75 percent of small business owners that file taxes and individual rates – the same small business owners responsible for nearly two-thirds of private sector job creation.”
A rematch is scheduled this Friday at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids.