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Editorial: Return Walz to Washington for another term

When we endorsed the re-election of District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, last week, we cited his bipartisan record as a primary reason to return to him to St. Paul.

This time, we’ll give a similar rationale in endorsing U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s return to Washington.

Walz, DFL-Mankato, was first elected by Minnesota 1st Congressional District voters in November 2006, and he’s now seeking his sixth-year term. This year’s race represents a rematch of the 2014 showdown he had with Jim Hagedorn, a Blue Earth Republican who Walz beat by a 54.3 percent to 45.7 percent margin. Walz’s edge in available money was significant two years ago, and no doubt helped him retain his seat despite tireless campaigning by his challenger throughout the district.

This particular election cycle, of course, has been unpredictable, with the unlikely rise of Donald Trump to the top of the GOP ticket. As far as specific issues are concerned, ever-soaring health insurance premiums are clearly fueling a lot of anger, and Hagedorn has repeatedly castigated Walz for his support of the Affordable Care Act. It should be said, however, that Walz has never stated the ACA Act is perfect, and has in fact repeatedly stated a willingness to listen to ways the law can be tweaked and improved. In fact, he’s worked with Minnesota small business to hear their concerns and begin strides toward potential solutions.  

That fits perfectly with the way Walz has represented us over the last decade -- as a man of all the people, not just one party. The Lugar Center of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy ranked Walz fourth among 434 members of the U.S. House in its bipartisan index for 2015; the index measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that succeed in attracting co-sponsors from members of the other party, and how often they co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle.

It’s hard to imagine Hagedorn, if elected, earning a similar rating. He has been a strong supporter of Trump, who has alienated many within his own party (but, of course, is by no means out of the race thanks to the many imperfections of Hillary Clinton). He has campaigned with intonations of fear, offering dire warnings of massive immigration to America by this country’s enemies along with other far-right mythmaking.

At a time in which working together in Washington seems less likely than other, no matter who emerges with the presidency, we need someone like Walz who is willing to listen to others while offering -- and working toward -- pragmatic solutions. We endorse two more years of representation from our current congressman.