Weather Forecast


Two Republicans eye Simonson’s House seat

1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

Two Republican candidates in Minnesota House District 7B will vie for their party’s nod Tuesday to proceed to the general election, where one of them will take on incumbent Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth.

The Republican primary pits Carla Bayerl, a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant, against Travis Silvers, an independent building contractor.

Bayerl, 62, is making her first bid for public office, while this election marks Silvers’ third run at the District 7B seat that covers western Duluth.

Silvers, 34, has lived in Duluth his whole life. He said he entered the race after seeing that no other Republican had yet stepped forward to challenge Simonson.

Bayerl has called Duluth home since 2000, when she left the military after 22 years of service. She became a candidate just minutes before the filing deadline, heeding friends who had urged her to enter the race. Bayerl describes herself as a mixture of “conservative, Republican, Tea Party and a tiny bit libertarian.”

Reflecting on the approaching election, Silvers said: “There’s no issue in this race that I feel will make the keystone difference, but just in general, I stand on a moral ground, and I feel that morally our country has strayed from biblical values. It takes leadership with a biblical direction to guide the state of Minnesota.”

Until leaving the service, Bayerl said she was hesitant to share her views publicly or to seek a public leadership role.

“You can’t be real political in the military,” she said.

But Bayerl explained why she felt compelled to seek public office in retirement.

“The only way to fix your own government is to be inside,” she said. “You can talk about voting all you want, but with all the voter fraud and the money and manipulation these days, you’ve got to be on the inside.”

Bayerl voiced her outrage at “the fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer money.”

“I think the constant tax and spend is horrible,” she said. “There’s no respect for taxpayers.”

Bayerl pledged to be an agent for change. “We need fiscal conservatives to stop the spending. I say: Freeze everything. Freeze it and look at it. Just stop it.”

Silvers said he’s been unimpressed with Simonson’s service.

“He’s a typical Democrat,” Silvers said of Simonson. “He does what the Democrats do. During the last election cycle, he kind of tried to talk in bipartisan language. He used conservative buzzwords. But when it came down to it, he went down to St. Paul and just behaved just as liberal as any other Democrat.”

Silvers wasn’t completely critical of Simonson, however.

“I think anyone would support what he did as far as trying to put restrictions on synthetic drug sales,” Silvers said. “But as far as any of his other things, you know — gun control, taxes, any of that — he has followed a typical liberal pathway.”

Bayerl said she’s eager to unseat her Democratic opponent.

“He’s a tax-and-spender,” she said. “He goes along with everything they want to spend and everything they want to grow. More taxing and more spending.”

Simonson, who is in his first term in the House, offered no apologies.

“I’m not ashamed of the fact that we raised taxes. I think that needed to be done,” he said. “We walked into a structural deficit with regard to our state budget, and I think for the first time in 10 years we have a structurally balanced budget going forward, not only in this biennium but in the next biennium.”

Considering the state’s other priorities and obligations, Simonson said it made sense “to balance the budget by raising taxes on Minnesotans who could afford it the most.”