Local view: Cravaack needs to start acting like a congressman
It seems Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack didn't get the memo he won the election on Nov. 2 and now has the privilege of representing the interests of the people of Northeastern Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead of acting like a con...
It seems Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack didn't get the memo he won the election on Nov. 2 and now has the privilege of representing the interests of the people of Northeastern Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead of acting like a congressman, he seems to be stuck in perpetual-campaign mode, attacking the man he defeated, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, and repeating Tea Party talking points over and over like a broken record.
Cravaack and his supporters complain Oberstar is not actively reaching out to tell Cravaack he ran a good campaign. What are they doing, playing the role of playground bully, holding down their victim, demanding he cry, "Uncle"? Unfortunately for Cravaack, recess ended a month ago and everyone else is in class trying to learn something.
The Cravaack camp also has complained that Oberstar is not turning over constituent casework. However, if Cravaack had stayed awake during his freshman orientation, he would have known the federal Privacy Act forbids outgoing congressmen from passing casework on to their successors. Think about that for a second. What if you don't like Cravaack? Would you really want your personal information passed on to his office without your consent?
Since the chiefs of staff from both offices have been in contact to facilitate the transition, it is clear the complaining is a ploy to detract from the fact that Cravaack has yet to answer how he is going to fulfill his campaign promises to balance the budget and stimulate the economy, or how he will address the needs of his constituents in the 8th Congressional District.
Indeed, about the only insight we have is his first post-election interview with the News Tribune, during which he suggested he'd pull the plug on both the extension of the Munger Trail and the Northern Lights Express train ("Cravaack would put brakes on train and rails," Nov. 4). He also suggested he'd attempt to bring to a screeching halt the construction of a new terminal at Duluth International Airport, a project in its second year.
How does Cravaack intend to create jobs in the 8th District by opposing projects that would boost the construction industry and enhance economic development?
Cravaack's unilateral classification of these projects as "wants" rather than "needs" also is troubling. If he had bothered to ask about the airport, for example, he would have found the terminal was badly outdated, that it posed safety hazards, and that both the FAA and the airlines enthusiastically supported its replacement.
It seems Cravaack already is out of touch with the people of the 8th District, preferring to echo Tea Party sound bites than to talk to his new constituents.
Local government officials throughout the district also are in the dark as to what a Congressman Cravaack means to their projects. Mayor Don Ness, for example, fears for the fate of the Joshua Avenue project, an important public-safety issue for the citizens of Duluth.
The new Congress convenes in less than a month. The people of the 8th District still don't know how their congressman-elect plans to balance the budget while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, how he would vote on an extension of unemployment benefits or how he would be sure they have access to affordable health care for their children.
Chip Cravaack won the election. It's time for him to drop the campaign rhetoric and start being a congressman.
Shelly Mategko of Duluth is a former lobbyist, legislative staffer and political fundraiser. The granddaughter of a Teamster and Iron Range miner, her political experience dates back to 1966.