Having strayed from his promise to legislate moderately, as his predecessor Jim Ramstad did, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) has proven himself to be a friend to the fringe, and anything but moderate. Paulsen won the seat in 2008 by 7.63% when Jim Ramstad retired. Notably, the Independent candidate received 10.56% of the total vote proving that Minnesota’s Third is, generally, a moderate district. This year, Paulsen is up against Democrat (and newcomer) Jim Meffert, former President of the Minnesota PTA — as well as his own hard right voting record.
With the money that comes along with incumbent status and attention from events starring tea partier Sarah Palin, Paulsen’s war chest currently dwarfs Meffert’s, and much is being made of this in the press. But is the fact that a candidate has large, quick donations in his back pocket necessarily a good thing for the citizenry? Some of Paulsen’s largest contributions have come from Target Corp., TCF, and Pawn America, in addition to Republican groups like “Every Republican is Crucial” and “Freedom Project.”
Meffert, on the other hand, has been raising money in smaller increments and, no doubt, less of it. According to CampaignMoney.com, the largest donation to his Friends of Meffert PAC was $2,400 as of July 28, 2010. It’s no secret that Meffert lacks the contacts and connections (not to mention personal deep pockets) required to bring in fast loads of cash. But the fact that he’s more like the average guy/dad/employee/citizen should appeal to many of those who are sick of watching millions go through the political revolving door while living paycheck to paycheck themselves, wondering what their legislators are actually doing for them.
Meffert is a champion of quality education and supports a new green economy as a proven way to create new jobs. (Just look at a few solar stocks to see the possibilities there: GoSolar USA opened at $.71 this week and now sits at $1.09.) After visiting the Minneapolis Electric Training Facility to see the creation of green jobs in action this past July, Meffert had this to say at the Maple Grove Public Library:
“The Gulf crisis is a wake-up call for all of us, and America needs to get serious about transitioning to renewable energy sources right now…But too many of our elected officials continue to support a status quo energy strategy that will keep us dependent on fossil fuels far into the future. Congressman Erik Paulsen, for example, has been a big advocate for offshore drilling, while accepting campaign contributions from oil companies and industry PACs and voting against tax incentives for renewable energy. Those attitudes and associations are holding us back from delivering a new energy strategy that is truly safe, sustainable, and economically beneficial for all of us.”
A self-confessed former Republican, Jim Meffert is more likely to legislate moderately than Paulsen did. As a newcomer, Meffert brings fresh ideas, enthusiasm – and accessibility – to the voters of Minnesota’s Third. He may not have the same fundraising ability as Paulsen, but if the ability to raise large donations fast is the defining criteria of a successful campaign, we all know who’s eventually going to be running the country – and the state – and the city. It’s not going to be moderates – and it’s not going to be Davids.