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Meet the GOP candidates in the 1st Congressional District special election primary

GOP candidates say they would fight inflation, work to secure energy independence, expand markets for farmers.

We are part of The Trust Project.

On Tuesday, May 24, voters will head to the polls to pick major party nominees to advance to an Aug. 9 special special election that will decide who will serve out the remainder of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn's term in Congress in the First Congressional District.

To help voters with this decision, the PB has created a voter guide based on responses from the candidates to questions posed to them by the PB.

What would be their top priorities if elected? How would deal with inflation, which is at a four-decade high? What energy approach do they support? How would they fix the country's immigration crisis?

You can read their answers and prescriptions for dealing with the country's problems and challenges here. In their own words.

There are 19 candidates right now and four will win the nomination to represent the DFL, GOP and two cannabis parties.

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Jennifer Carnahan
Jennifer Carnahan.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Name: Jennifer Carnahan.

Residence: Blue Earth, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: I was married to Congressman Jim Hagedorn prior to his passing three months ago.

Education: B.A. in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University; MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Political experience: I served as Chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota for four and a half years.

Website: JenniferCarnahanforCongress.com

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What would be your top three priorities if elected?

First, we must empower states to secure our elections and stop Nancy Pelosi’s election takeover. Second, we have to rein in the out of control spending that has sent inflation sky high. Finally, we will finish building the wall along our southern border to keep our communities safe.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

It’s simple. We need to stop spending trillions of dollars that we do not have. Inflation is the price our families must now pay for the trillions of dollars Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden spent on packages full of political pork. You deserve a government you can trust to spend your hard-earned tax-dollars where they will do the most good for you, not billionaire donors.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

I support an all-of-the-above approach to energy. Yes, let’s continue to develop renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and nuclear. But let’s also keep our nation strong and energy independent by producing oil and gas at the same levels we saw under President Trump.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

Joe Biden created the border crisis by overturning successful Trump Administration policies. We must reimplement those policies and restore the rule of law along the border. Finally, we must also finish building the border wall for which American taxpayers have already paid.

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4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

The most impactful election interference was not from Russia, but right here at home. In 2020, Big Tech and the liberal media suppressed the news that Hunter Biden’s laptop was recovered, and on that laptop were details of the Biden family’s shady dealings. Despite this information now being confirmed as true, they hastily dismissed it as disinformation. Big tech and the media work together to only present the facts they want us to see, guiding us towards their desired outcome. We must absolutely restore the freedom of information in the United States.


Exclusive
Winners will advance to Aug. 9 election where they will vie to serve out late Rep. Jim Hagedorn's term.

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Bob “Again” Carney Jr.
Contributed

Name: Bob “Again” Carney Jr.

Residence: 4232 Colfax Ave So., Mpls.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Single

Education: BA Macalester College, core in physics; MBA University of Minnesota Carlson School.

Political experience: Managed GOP Congress campaign challenging Rep. Don Fraser in Minneapolis; intern, Congressman Frenzel’s Washington office; campaigned for governor, mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, Hennepin County Board, State Senate.

Website: www.votebobagain.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

My only issue is ensuring that Trump cannot be on the 2024 ballot for president.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation? 

The primary cause of our inflation was the stimulus provided from early 2020 forward to avoid a COVID recession. We succeeded in maintaining aggregate demand. But the stimulus money and general COVID disruption to both supply chains and the labor market have resulted in inflation. The first and most obvious solution is to slow down on aggregate spending; a second and needed response is higher interest rates, at least in the short term.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

For the U.S., I strongly support maximizing U.S. production of oil and natural gas in the short term. We must stabilize world prices and ensure America’s energy supply. But these are short-term measures. I have a U.S. patent application currently being examined for a “global thermostat” – a system of tethered pairs of ultra-light mirrors 1 million miles from Earth and orbiting the Sun. The first mirror redirects sunlight to the second mirror, which redirects it to solar panel farms. The additional electricity produced pays for the system.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

Due to the short time remaining in the current term, and my overriding priority of ensuring we move beyond Trump, I can’t be actively engaged on this issue, and respectfully decline to answer this question.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

This is my issue. With the war in Ukraine, we’re now seeing fuller consequences of Russia’s disastrously successful 2016 campaign for “Russian Regime Change in America.” In the 2016 election, Russia’s dream came true: Regime Change in America. Russia and Putin won it all in 2016. Now their agenda is to stoke and feed the fires of disunion that are destroying America’s public institutions and norms. America’s fundamental challenge today is to back away from civil war.


Exclusive
They want to make pot legal and revitalize southern Minnesota's economy.

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Ken Navitsky.
Contributed

Name: Ken S. Navitsky.

Residence: Rochester, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Wife, Kelley; two kids, Peyton, Parker.

Education: Minnesota State University-Mankato.

Political experience: Former Rochester Zoning and Planning Commissioner; worked on presidential campaigns of Perot, Bush and Romney.

Website: www.navitsky.us

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Safety, economy, southern border. 

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

We need to stop pumping free money into the market to stabilize the dollar. We are deficit spending our way into big problems. Time to stop.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

We were energy independent. This administration has single-handedly hurt all Americans with its energy policy. The Keystone pipeline was bad for us, but Nordstream 7 is good for Russia? Complete and total lunacy. We need common sense back in power.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

Enforcing our LAWS on the border. We allow 1 million people to legally enter the USA each year. What is happening right now is completely unacceptable and criminal. I would also be in favor of a merit-based immigration system.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

I’ll leave that up to the experts. Our voting is one of the most sacred duties we have. It must be protected and voting laws must be enforced. I 100 percent support VOTER ID.


Brad Finstad
Brad Finstad.
Contributed

Name: Brad Finstad.

Residence: New Ulm, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Wife, Jackie; We have seven kids.

Education: University of Minnesota degree in agricultural education with an emphasis in rural leadership development.

Political experience: Three-term state representative (2003 to 2009); served as President Trump’s appointed state director for the USDA Office of Rural Development (2017 to 2021).

Website: FinstadForCongress.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Get a handle on inflation. To do that, we need to control spending, reduce regulation, and lower the costs of energy. Secure the border. Immigration is a foundation of our country but it must be done legally. The uncontrolled situation on the border is dangerous and costly, it is also contributing to the drug crisis in our country. Make sure rural Minnesota can be a thriving place for people to live, work, and raise a family. We have to make sure policies are such that rural areas don’t get left behind.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Bringing down the cost of energy is a big part of the solution. We should restart construction of the Keystone pipeline and streamline processes for other energy related development. We were a net energy exporter just a few years ago. We also need to control spending, especially at the federal level. If we flood the market with printed dollars it will drive inflation up. The lack of federal oversight and uncontrollable appetite to spend our way through COVID has put us in a very tough economic position.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

Pipelines like Keystone should be allowed to be built. We should allow oil exploration and drilling. We should continue to develop ethanol and biodiesel as part of the energy solution. We should be an energy resource to our allies, not energy dependent on our enemies.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

First of all, you have to secure the border. Our country has been based on immigration, but it is grounded in the rule of law. That must be paramount. Our immigration system should be workforce needs-based. What we want are people who want to contribute to our country.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

What we saw particularly in 2020 was changing of the rules improperly. Election law should be passed by our elected legislature and signed by our elected governors. Secretaries of state and courts changed the rules in the middle of the game. That should not happen. People need to feel confident in our system of elections. We should always do what we can to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat. I oppose the federal takeover of elections like Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress are trying to do with HR1. Decisions should be made locally.


jeremy-munson.jpg
Jeremy Munson.
Contributed

Name: Jeremy Munson.

Residence: Lake Crystal, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Wife, Kallie; daughters, Stella, 14, and Gretta, 11.

Education: B.S., business management, University of Minnesota.

Political experience: Grassroots activism, county party leader, chairman of GOP 1st Congressional District, elected to Minnesota House of Representatives (2018 to present).

Website: jeremymunson.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Taking corrective action to (1) reduce inflation, (2) reinstate American energy independence, and (3) address American supply chain security by creating a tax and regulatory framework to bring manufacturing back to America.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

We are experiencing a drastic increase to inflation because both Republicans and Democrats have agreed to cut taxes while increasing spending. The resulting massive annual deficits have created over $30 trillion in debt and runaway inflation; $7 trillion in new cash was printed in the past two years alone. This has devalued everyone’s money and eroded their purchasing power. We must also significantly reduce spending in advance of rising interest rates. This means members of Congress will have to make difficult votes to cut spending. I am the only candidate in the race who has vowed not to raise the debt ceiling, which is like asking for a higher limit on the nation’s 30 trillion dollar credit card. I also support a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution, which will prevent future abuse by Congress.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

I have served on the Energy Committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives under both Democrat and Republican majorities. I support an all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes nuclear, large-scale hydro, natural gas, geothermal, coal with carbon recapture, and supplemental wind power. For transportation and to power our electric grid, we must restore American energy independence by allowing the flexibility to produce hydrocarbon fuels in the most efficient, and environmental manner. No energy is 100% carbon-free or 100% renewable, but we can maintain energy independence while also improving the environmental impact of all forms of energy.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

America is a welcoming nation, and our protection of civil liberties and unlimited opportunity attract entrepreneurs from around the world. Most come here because their own government has become too large, oppressive, or corrupt. When our economy is great, we should welcome a controlled flow of immigrants. To control this, unlawful immigration must be stopped, and therefore securing our border must be our priority. America must have a robust guest worker program to fill American jobs, especially if we are to restore American manufacturing to mitigate future supply chain disruptions. When our economy expands, we must bring in new guest workers. When our economy contracts, work visas must not be renewed to protect American workers. The hurdle to controlling this flow of guest workers is birthright citizenship, which anchors guest workers whose children are born on U.S. soil during their temporary guest worker status. All developed nations, except the US and Canada, have recently rescinded birthright citizenship, so they can better control the flow of workers. We should do the same.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

You need look no further than our own government interfering in the elections. I was illegitimately elected in the 2020 election, since Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon unilaterally changed election law, which the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed he did not have the authority to do. The definition of legitimate is “follows the law or rules.” Therefore, the interference caused the election to be illegitimate. To restore election integrity, we must follow election laws and never again allow an election which does not follow the laws.


Roger U.jpg
Roger Ungemach.
Contributed

Name: Roger Ungemach.

Residence: Born and raised in Minnesota.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Married, seven children, five grown, two still at home.

Education: University of Minnesota Institute of Technology.

Political experience: None. I have no long-term political plans and no political career to protect.

Website: https://ballotpedia.org/Roger_Ungemach@Campaign_themes .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

My No. 1 is a very great issue that most seem to have forgotten about and our propaganda media wants to keep it that way. The issue is that back in February, Joe Biden was allowed to extend his “emergency powers” indefinitely. There are a large number of these powers, some of which have been enumerated publicly, but many that are so secret that the public is not allowed to know about.

Another URGENT item is we need a Free Press that tells the Truth. Yes, if Twitter can be brought back from the “cancel culture,” it will be a big win for Freedom, but as things are, lots of Americans still don’t realize the truly desperate situation our country is in, and it is only those who have found “alternative media” who do.

This is not a time for politics as usual. And it is not a time for the usual politicians, good though they may be. This is no longer the world of 2019, as it was before the COVID craziness.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Get oil pipelines and other U.S. energy back and going to full capacity. We need this NOW and so does the rest of the world. Oil is the lifeblood of our economy. Doing that will start to ease things.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

Get oil pipelines and other energy back and going to full capacity. And on the war in Ukraine, Putin proposed terms to end it from the beginning, and our rotten mainstream media kept us from knowing about it, with the Biden administration preferring to exacerbate the situation with rhetoric and sending personnel and weapons, and more and more weapons, prolonging and increasing the death and destruction and refugee crisis.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

Close the borders and stop illegal immigration now. Get us out of the United Nations and kick them out of our border areas. They are helping to make the problem much worse than it would be otherwise, and remove the funding and status of Catholic Charities and other organizations that are also making the problem worse and also seem to be globalist communist fronts.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

The instances are far too many to mention here. FrankSpeech.com has details of just about every kind of election crime and fraud occurring in every state in 2020. But it goes back to when the voting machines were first implemented and people have been complaining and warning us about them all along but nothing has been done about it. We need to put measures in place to make sure the 2022 and future elections cannot be stolen, including voting completed in one day and with ID and five-year regular proof of citizenship required. No drop boxes, no unrequested mail-in ballots and requested ones allowed only for verifiable reasons like severe handicap and overseas deployment.


Matt.jpg
Matt Benda.
Contributed

Name: Matt Benda.

Residence: Albert Lea, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Married to Heather for 22 years; two children.

Education: University of Minnesota, degree in agricultural business management; Drake University Law School, JD with honors.

Political experience: I am a political outsider. My grassroots experience includes past service as chair of the Freeborn County Republican Party.

Website: www.bendaforcongress.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Attacking inflation and bringing down the cost of living. Preserving patient choice and the 1st District’s world-class health care. Expanding markets and advocating for farmers and our agribusiness economy.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Inflation under the Biden/Pelosi agenda is at a 40-year-high and climbing. The Democratic-created inflation is devastating to middle-class families in southern Minnesota. Yet, leading Democrats continue to advocate for increased wasteful “stimulus” spending that many in their own party do not support. Controlling federal spending is one way to prevent too many dollars from chasing too few goods and bringing inflation under control. Secondly, energy independence will bring down the cost of gas, diesel, fertilizer and many other goods and services.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

An energy independent America is a strong America, and an America whose energy needs cannot be held hostage by our country’s enemies. I will support an “all of the above” approach to energy production, which includes oil, renewable fuels, natural gas, nuclear power, clean coal and other options such as solar and wind energy. Equally important is the need for a safe, well-built and effective energy infrastructure including refineries, pipelines and power lines to transport sources for a variety of uses in agriculture, manufacturing and for medical facilities such as Mayo Clinic.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

The U.S. has been a beacon of opportunity and hope for those from other countries since its founding. We are all immigrants to our great land, and the U.S. must always serve as home for political and economic freedom to oppressed people in other nations. The responsibility of the federal government is to enforce the immigration laws on the books, steadfastly defend the physical borders of our nation, implement systemic immigration verification and visa reforms, and establish a system to responsibly assist U.S. business in obtaining a vibrant workforce. I will also support legislation to continue to build the wall and commit military and high-technology assets to our southern border. We must end the regulatory practice of “birthright citizenship.”

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

Election integrity should not be a partisan issue. The undisputed fact is that the COVID pandemic opened the door for an unprecedented number of changes to how elections were run and administered, and how ballots were cast, commingled and counted. Many of these changes were instituted by highly partisan secretaries of states, activist judges or through executive orders without legislative oversight. People of all political parties should be concerned when this happens.


Nels Pierson mug
Nels Pierson.
Contributed

Name: Nels Pierson.

Residence: Rochester, Minn.

Political Party: Republican.

Family: Married, five children.

Education: High school diploma from Butterfield-Odin Public School; B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.; and J.D. from Hamline University School of Law. St. Paul.

Political experience: Campaign manager for Congressman Gil Gutknect, 2004 to 2006, and Minnesota state representative for 26B, 2015 to 2022.

Website: nels.com .

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

The economy/inflation, border security/law enforcement, limiting Washington, D.C.’s, power.

1. Inflation is at a four-decade high, eroding people’s purchasing power. What should be done to contain inflation?

Today, we are seeing the impact of the splurge in federal spending to fund the government-imposed shutdown, followed by changes in the direction of federal regulatory and economic policies. President Biden’s executive orders have stymied the necessary economic growth and productivity required to combat inflation after unprecedented government spending to prop up the pandemic economy. We need to undo recent regulations put upon the trucking industry and at our nation’s ports. We need policies that allow for the responsible development of domestic mineral mining and energy resources. Permitting and tax policies should encourage manufacturing in the U.S. Inflation makes the government budget problems worse. As a congressman, I will introduce and support bills that address balancing the budget.

2. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the foreign policy implications of energy? What energy approach do you support for achieving energy independence in the U.S.?

Applying American ingenuity and principles for free enterprise, all energy sources should be pursued as long as our supply is reliable, affordable, environmentally-sound, and secure. The next Congress should negotiate with the Biden administration to reopen the permitting of the Keystone pipeline. Our energy security would increase if we traded with our friend to the north rather than transact energy deals with nations that are unfriendly to us. Congress should also pass measures encouraging the continued operation of existing American oil and natural gas pipelines, investments in the construction of additional new pipelines and the power transmission grid, and the development of our nation’s onshore and offshore oil and natural gas resources.

3. How would you fix the country’s immigration challenges?

We need to secure our border and continue to build the wall on our southern border. We need to support our border agents with policies, funding, tools, and equipment to do their job. Legal immigrants need a quicker path to citizenship that rewards them for obeying our immigration laws. Merit-based immigration qualifications should be broadened, and quotas increased to alleviate backlogs and pressures at the borders. This proactive spending should cause savings in the areas of enforcement at the border because of a decrease in illegal crossings and in fentanyl, sex-trafficking, and welfare service costs. Finally, we need to deport lawbreakers who arrived in the United States illegally and insist they enter our country legally.

4. Can you cite instances of election interference in either of the last two presidential elections. (Trump over Clinton in 2016, or Biden over Trump in 2020)? If so, what steps would you take to fix these problems?

Since my elementary school days of learning how elections are conducted, I’ve always valued the principle of one person, one vote rule of law. While I do not have direct evidence of election interference, I have received information from a constituent that their deceased parents were marked as voting in the 2020 election. I’ve had anecdotal evidence shared by others. At the end of the day, we need transparency so that voters are confident that their vote was not suppressed by illegal activity. Minnesota is one of three states that does not use a provisional voting process. Our state would increase voter confidence in the results if it used provisional balloting. We also need party balance in the participation of election judges at the polls, and when mail-in and absentee ballots are counted. Asking voters to show photo identification to receive a ballot would substantially reduce complaints and distrust of the process. I favor increased transparency and the ability to maintain a private ballot while still tying it to an actual voter.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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