Paulsen will have primary challenger for 3rd District nomination

"I know it’s a tall order, and I’m well aware it’s a long shot," Howard said of his campaign.

Erik Paulsen, who, as 3rd District congressman, represents arguably the safest Republican district in the state, has a challenger for the Republican nomination.

John Howard, a 24-year-old graduate of Edina High School and St. Olaf College, wants to take on Paulsen and, in particular, the Republican Party’s position on climate change.

Howard’s decision to run came after several frustrating visits to Washington with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a relatively new grass-roots organization with chapters in all 50 states.

“Nothing is happening at the federal level. The Democrats won’t do anything without Republican support. Republicans say there are more pressing issues,” he said. “Something has to be done about climate change, and if it has to be me, I was up for that.”

Howard’s campaign website is sketchy on specifics but does offer a resolution on climate change that supports renewable energy and reduction of fossil fuels.

Paulsen says he’s not familiar with Howard and that he expects several challengers once the Minnesota filings open.

But in a brief interview, he appeared to give Howard’s concerns due consideration.

“I’m a big conservationist,” Paulsen said, citing his attention to the Asian carp issue.  “But right now, the big issues are jobs and the economy.”

The economy is the dominant topic, Howard acknowledges.

“I’m concerned about the national debt. I think over my lifetime it’s quadrupled, and I’m not really all that old.”

But environmental degradation is just as big a threat, he said. He points out he’s no amateur on the subject. He has a degree in biology, a job as a permitting consultant for a small, civil-engineering firm in Eden Prairie and volunteers with such groups as Edina’s Energy and Environment Commission.

As for politics, Howard’s interest came young [disclosure: he was a boyhood friend of my son] and followed him to voting age as a regular caucus attendee.  He intended to seek the Republican endorsement but was told he had to sign a statement saying he’d drop out of the race if he weren’t successful.

“I wanted to go through party channels, but they discouraged it,” he said.

He is, he maintains, a real Republican. “I was a supporter of George Bush,” he said.  “As an environmental consultant, I see the ludicrousness of federal regulation. Government doesn’t necessarily have the answer.”

Youth is an asset, he says.  “The reason I stayed [a Republican] is that it’s important that the Republican Party not be out in left field,” Howard said.

Eric PaulsenMinnPost photo by Brian HallidayRep. Erik Paulsen: “I think it’s incredibly important to have young people in the party.”

“I think it’s incredibly important to have young people in the party,” Paulsen said Wednesday. He made his comments about Howard just before he addressed a more traditional Republican coalition, senior citizens who came to the Minnetonka Community Center for Paulsen’s seminar on how to prevent identity theft.

Given Paulsen’s reputation as a hard-working politician, Howard is candid about his chances.  He met with the chairs of his Edina state Senate district who advised him of the amount of work involved in a campaign. “They wanted to make it very clear that it’s more than you can imagine and then some,” he said.

Like David versus Goliath?

“I’ve heard those exact terms before,” Howard said. “I know it’s a tall order, and I’m well aware it’s a long shot.”

But at the risk of getting labeled a single-issue candidate so early in his career, Howard has his focus.  “I’m hopeful I can bring the issue of climate change into the Republican discussion.”

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/03/2012 - 09:17 am.

    Federal regulation is “ludicrous”

    So he’s running for Congress to do something about climate change–how, then, if not by federal regulation?

    I don’t think this young man has thought things through very carefully.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/03/2012 - 11:42 am.

      I aree

      He needs to better understand the principle of how government regulation is antithetical to a free society or consider joining the party that believes in more government control.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/03/2012 - 01:22 pm.

        Not looking at it in Manichean terms

        I don’t see it as an either/or proposition. The Republican Party was traditionally (until Reagan) the party for environmentalists, and they believed in federal laws and regulations to accomplish that purpose. It’s always a question of reasonableness, or the way regulations are crafted. For example, the “cap and trade” so despised of radio talk-show hosts was a market-based, effective response to an environmental issue.

        On the other hand, I do believe he should be prepared to explain how he reconciles running for Congress on an environmental protection platform with his expressed disdain for federal regulation.

  2. Submitted by Dave Eischens on 05/03/2012 - 12:29 pm.

    I applaud Howard taking action

    It seems climate change is an issue more seriously taken by our younger citizens because they’re inheriting whatever our older citizens are leaving behind.

    Since societies by definition can’t exist without regulations (we are a nation of laws after all), it’s unquestionably best that people from all points along the political spectrum take part. So if a corporation-hugging Republican Party can re-open the climate change dialogue through their younger members, I’m all for it.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/03/2012 - 01:41 pm.

      That’s funny

      I got this in an email the other day.

      The Green Thing

      Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

      The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

      The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

      She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

      Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

      We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

      Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

      Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

      We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

      Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

      But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/03/2012 - 02:09 pm.

        So, Mr. Tester: do you buy

        So, Mr. Tester:

        do you buy milk by the bottle still?

        do you walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator ?

        do you shop at thrift stores and hang your laundry on the line?

        do you buy bottled ink and fill your pens?

        do you have a razor strop and cut-throat razor?

        All of those things are still an option. So why did they decrease in popularity? Was it perhaps the drive for the lowest-cost provider and the greatest convenience?

        And isn’t it interesting how all of those changes you name occurred in the 1950’s through the 1980’s (30 to 60 years ago). So, all of those changes were made by adults who are at least 50+ years old now.

        That’s hardly within the time frame of the young ones.

        So they are making the best of the world that you and your age cohorts made (and made mo’ money off of).

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/03/2012 - 03:34 pm.

        The age of the tree-huggers?

        Recycling, mass transit, bicycling, low-energy appliances, wind and solar power–it sounds like everything conservatives lilke to sneer at.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/03/2012 - 01:11 pm.

    Congratulations on his recognition of the issue.

    I hope he survives the “denial” firestorm.

  4. Submitted by Bradley Bolin on 05/03/2012 - 01:29 pm.

    Not sitting down

    Kudos for trying to change the system. However, at this point saving the country (and planet) as we know it will absolutely take a lot of federal regulation by multiple countries. Businesses do not do what is right out of the goodness of their hearts. They will only do positive things if they make money off them or are forced to do them. But at least Mr. Howard is taking action to move his party in the wrong direction. And that can only help us all.

  5. Submitted by Bill Kellett on 05/03/2012 - 04:42 pm.

    What will it take?

    These comments make me wonder. Mr Bolin how is pushing Republicans to recognize climate change a bad thing, moving his party in the wrong direction?
    And Mr Tester’s comments about how we could make small changes in lifestyle to help the climate change personally seem to me appropriate and on the money. It doesn’t have to be a green thing.
    Just because we don’t all agree on everything political is no reason to ignore any suggestions to help solve the problem.
    I’m looking forward to hearing Mr Howard’s ideas on the issue. Solving the problem without federal regulation would certainly be more doable in the present political climate. Admitting we have a problem is a worthwhile beginning. Super storms will effect us all, not just Republicans or Democrats.

  6. Submitted by Brian Nelson on 05/04/2012 - 08:21 am.

    Those are all excellent points…

    but it was also the older generations who did away with all of those things in favor of convenience, modernization, freedom, etc., etc. So, Dennis are you now saying you want to go back to all of those things. If so, lead the charge. I’m with you.

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