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The odd congressional candidacy of David Benson-Staebler

David Benson-Staebler
David Benson-Staebler

David Benson-Staebler, Republican candidate for John Kline’s seat in the Second Congressional District, has already made quite an impression among the activists and obsessives paying attention to the race at this early stage — largely due to the candidate’s comments in an introductory news release and on social media.   

Among other things, in a news release distributed at the first Republican candidate debate, Benson-Staebler called Black Lives Matter “a ruinous movement which… has done tremendous damage to African-American and its own communities.”

Then there was this: “For the good many, I would seriously consider punitive punishments against anyone violating the law out of a bigotry against my being Caucasian, male, and heterosexual as prejudice.”

In an email follow up to my questions, he wrote: “BLM has been based on lies and bigotry from the beginning and was fostered as a prep-for-get-out-the-vote for Democrats from the beginning … As reflects the style of President Obama-era DNC tactics, the movement does not seek racial equality and perverts the teaching of Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Benson-Staebler has echoed those remarks with similar posts on Twitter. Such extreme comments — coupled with Benson-Staebler’s previous work as an operative for Democratic candidates in Virginia and New York — have actually prompted suspicions that he is not a Republican candidate at all, but a mischief-maker solely in the race to offer inflammatory rhetoric that will taint the entire Republican field.

At least two other candidates’ campaigns have referenced the issue, albeit indirectly. Andy Parrish, a consultant for state representative Pam Myhra, one of the other four GOP candidates competing to replace Kline, said: “While some people might seem to polarize and divide the party, Pam Myhra has a record of uniting people from all across the spectrum and all walks of life.”

Noah Rouen, a spokesman for the race’s most high-profile candidate, former radio host Jason Lewis, offered: “Jason’s campaign is focused on bringing people together. With a $20 trillion national debt and growing crisis abroad, Minnesota’s second congressional district needs someone who understands the issues and has real solutions to the serious problems facing our district and nation.” 

Benson-Staebler, 29, said division is not the purpose of his condemnation of Black Lives Matter, even as he proceded to go further with an explanation of his views.

“The biggest hate problem of today is African-Americans against Caucasians,” he said. “Just look at when someone said they were going to shoot white kids on the University of Chicago campus.”

If his Republican competitors question Staebler-Benson’s positions, he is not surprised. “I understand if different generations don’t see it the way I do,” he said.

Benson-Staebler’s positions on the economy, Social Security, and terrorism — as he expressed them at the debate two weeks ago  — are similar to those of GOP competitors Lewis, Myhra, John Howe and David Gerson.

But his views shift toward the libertarian on social issues. “I know people in Minneapolis who are same sex and married and they’ve been together for decades.  The idea of them not having the access and the treatment that’s necessary for their union would be wrong,” he said.  He added he does not endorse the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue.  “It seemed to be that the court was making a law, which is not the court’s job,” he said.

On abortion he says, “With the degree that I am pro-life, I begin with fewer abortions, fewer later abortions and more support for motherhood and parenthood.”

Benson-Staebler said his political change of heart evolved over time, starting from his days as a philosophy major at St. Olaf College. He currently lives in Morris, about 200 miles away from the Second Congressional District, adding another question mark about his candidacy. He says he is planning to move into the district shortly. 

Still, he insists that his candidacy is no prank. “Doing this is not necessarily a fun job, it’s not necessarily about being liked,” he said.

As for his view on race, equality, and Black Lives matter, he says, “I am ready to defend them.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2015 - 11:39 am.

    Views on Race, Etc.

    What is he saying out loud that many people are not saying under their breaths, or in anonymous internet fora?

  2. Submitted by Roy Everson on 12/02/2015 - 07:51 pm.

    Shut up and vote

    He may not be the type of candidate Republicans want, but unfortunately he is the type of voter they very much need and are loath to lose.

  3. Submitted by David Benson-Staebler on 12/02/2015 - 09:59 pm.

    Characterization of security similarity is totally bogus, etc.

    First of all: my positions on security, particularly foreign engagements, are absolutely vastly different than David Gerson, Jason Lewis, and Mrs. Pam Myhra. At that debate, Mrs. Myhra said she opposed “boots on the ground” in Syria. That is a ridiculous position that totally flies in the face of my beliefs. We cannot put any of the three of them forward as they are all too weak on security. As I explained at the debate and in posts well before the 11.13.15 attack, et cetera, the core of my security engagement policy is: No Freedom For Terrorists, or otherwise put: NO FREE TERROR. That means doing what is necessary and not having any such unproductive restrictions as no engagement here or there, working with necessary partners to achieve all that is necessary. I believe America is exceptional as the Honorable Dick Cheney put it in his new book: these three take nowhere near the necessary responsibility to keep America safe. Lewis and Gerson both espoused isolationist views a la Senator Rand Paul, which I also explained in our interviews. Watch them on TPT before the 11.13.15 attacks in Paris in that mini-debate and see how now they act as if they have appropriate views. As I said on the phone: in the first Republican Presidential debates, notably where Senator Rubio called out the dangers of Senator Paul’s isolationism, Senator Paul stood out in disagreement about engagement with the other nine candidates. I want everyone to take our security concerns seriously enough, but Gerson and Lewis are totally unqualified in this pivotal respect.

    As to the accusation that I am being divisive: that is a false characterization. We are seeing crime rates in many communities explode as a direct result of Democrat-led policy fueling of this racialism and growing animosities. You have to stand up to the abuser to end the abuse and the whole ball of wax of negative outcomes and increased violence produced. If you care about African American communities, you resist the bigotry and illegality, etc. As I have posted on Twitter (@DavidforMNCD2), we are refining policing and justice system procedure to improve the quality of outcomes and the penal reform process (there are groups of criminal abusers of legal practice and police forces in certain areas where the ends justify the means even, in their view, even if that is purely committing a crime with their badge that they simply want to do.) If or when people receive unequal prejudiced treatment under the law, there are the necessary consequences and any necessary fixes to a given operating situation are applied. Protests without permits violate ordinances; stopping freeways blocks ambulances, commerce, families, et cetera; violence against police is violence against all of us; cities permitting a group of people to have special rights to burn and loot a city as they did in Baltimore when the Mayor held back authorities saying: give them “space to destroy” (defending the policy the next day: we “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that;”) et cetera all foster general anarchy and degrade our country. When the Lewis and Mrs. Myhra campaigns call the truth that we need to face up to as a society and country dishonest: they make themselves part of the problem.

    As to Social Security: I spoke last on the issues at the debate–each of us would do more to ensure that Social Security is available for future generations than the Democrats.

    On the economy generally: I will do more to grow the economy, particularly Minnesota’s; Lewis said he would oppose anything that was only for the direct benefit of the district of Minnesota.

    As I frequently post and say, I will be the best of us to foster Conservatism in the district and Minnesota: quoting the Honorable Jeb Bush: “We’re all Conservatives, some of us just don’t know it, yet.”

    Finally, my Pro-Life answer was “my Pro Life…” not about being Pro-life to a degree, and when I pointed to Jabari Dean’s threat to kill 16 white University of Chicago students and staff plus any responding white police as doing his part to “rid the world of the white devils” while encouraging others to take arms for the same was answering your request for an example of bigotry against Caucasians today: to realize the scope of the problem, people need open minds to realize prejudice exists regardless who the victims are. Lewis’ “ending identity politics” leaving people without protections against illegal acts of discrimination is not the way to go, would do poorly at the ballot box, and is really the opposite of my point about correcting abuse. Racialism and vigilantism make the situation worse: the justice system needs to apply the necessary consequences and resist endorsing, facilitating, and ignoring crimes and violations.

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