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D.C. Memo: The race for Minnesota’s 2nd District seat just started … after it just wrapped-up

Plus: Reps. split on resolution on socialism and Minnesota loses two from the ag committee. Also, a complete article on Rep. Ilhan Omar being ousted from the Foreign Affairs Committee can be found here.

Rep. Angie Craig receiving a hug from a supporter at her Election Night gathering in Savage.
Rep. Angie Craig receiving a hug from a supporter at her Election Night gathering in Savage.
MinnPost photo by Evan Frost

WASHINGTON — While the dust hasn’t fully settled on the midterm elections, at least one Minnesota lawmakers is already preparing for the next one.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-2nd District, seems to have already drawn a Republican challenger. Michael Murphy, the former mayor of Lexington and a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, has filed a statement of candidacy and set up a “Murphy for Congress” campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Craig, who represents a swing district, said she’s resigned to the fact that she will always have to campaign.

Murphy and Craig will both likely have to raise lots of political cash. Craig’s (successful) effort to defend her seat was the most expensive political contest in Minnesota last year and one of the most expensive U.S. House races in the nation. Craig’s campaign spent more than $8.6 million on the race and GOP opponent Tyler Kistner’s campaign spent nearly $3.3 million, with outside groups pouring lots of additional money into the race.

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According to the latest filings with the FEC, Craig’s campaign secured a $25,000 line of credit with a local bank to pay off all its bills from that very expensive race because it ended the campaign cycle with very little cash on hand.

“I’m broke,” Craig said of her campaign finances. “I’ll have to get back to it.”

So the fundraising for 2024 begins.

Craig was not the only lawmaker to spend down her campaign funds.

Rep. Brad Finstad’s, R-1st District, campaign reported only $264.00 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, Dec. 31. And Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District, ended the year with only $11,004 in her campaign account.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-3rd District, ended the midterm cycle with about $176,000. But his campaign still owes him $250,000 from a $504,000 personal loan to the campaign made in 2018.

Other Minnesota lawmakers began the year with more in the bank. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-4th District, reported nearly $308,000 in her campaign account to start the New Year, Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th District, reported about $420,000 and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, had nearly $646,000 in his war chest.

The flip of the House from Democratic to Republican control is likely to boost the ability of the state’s GOP lawmakers to raise political money, especially Emmer who is now part of the GOP leadership as House whip, and Fischbach, who has been given a seat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Minnesota Democrats split on GOP resolution condemning socialism

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Minnesota’s Democratic members of the House of Representatives split Thursday on a resolution condemning socialism.

Phillips and Craig, the more moderate Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation, voted for the GOP’s “Denouncing the Horrors of Socialism” resolution.

The resolution said “socialist ideology necessitates a concentration of power that has time and time again collapsed into Communist regimes, totalitarian rule, and brutal dictatorships.” It also said socialism “has repeatedly led to famine and mass murders, and the killing of over 100,000,000 people worldwide.”

While Phillips voted for the resolution he said “it presents an incomplete version of history.”

“While rightfully condemning communist dictators who committed heinous human rights abuses, it ignores abuses that happen outside communist and socialist economic systems,” Phillips said in a statement. “It condemns Pol Pot, but not Hitler and the Nazi regime. It criticizes Joseph Stalin, but not right-wing dictators who murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians across Latin America.”

Phillips also said the resolution ignores how many of America’s European allies “have integrated moderate forms of socialism into functioning democracies, albeit at a cost to economic efficiency and innovation.”

The resolution was approved on a 328-86 vote, with all “no” votes coming from House Democrats; Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, and Betty McCollum, D-4th District, among them.

“The Republican majority has thrown together an ill-conceived resolution so sloppy that it condemns socialism in *all* its forms – including important U.S. allies & friends that have mainstream socialist political parties, like Norway, Australia, & Sweden, among many others,” McCollum said in a tweet.

She also said that Congress “should be working to strengthen the relationships with our fellow democracies – not passing poorly written resolutions that alienate our allies. Yet another political stunt by the new majority.”

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Consideration of the anti-socialism resolution on Thursday was also criticized by a  number of other Democrats who said the new GOP House majority should halt its parade of “messaging bills” and get down to work on the nation’s problems.

“The socialism resolution is useless. It does nothing. It does not matter,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “Are we talking about public schools? Are we talking about roads? Are we talking about Social Security? I mean, give me a break.”

The resolution was sponsored by Cuban-American Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida and co-sponsored by dozens of other Republicans, including Fischbach.

Fewer Minnesota lawmakers on agriculture committees

When the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups from the state come to Washington, D.C. to lobby key members of the state’s congressional delegation on a new farm bill, they may have fewer stops.

In the new Congress, Fischbach, and Craig will no longer have seats on the House Agriculture Committee. The only House member to sit on the panel that will craft the new farm bill is Finstad.

Fischbach lost her seat on the Agriculture Committee because she was given a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee and that prestigious panel limits membership in other committees.

Craig appears to be a victim of the requirement that House Democrats relinquish seats on almost every committee now that they are in the minority. Although she lost her seat on the agriculture panel, Craig was given a new assignment on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad jurisdiction. Craig said she will continue to push ethanol-blended gasolines in her new job. And she said she is still hoping to be seated on the Agriculture Committee because a final roster has not been released.

Minnesota will continue to have strong representation on the Senate Agriculture Committee, however. Both Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith will continue to serve on that panel.