Candidate's View: 'We need someone in Congress like me'
ABOUT THIS PRIMARY: Harry Welty of Duluth is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber of Hermantown in the primary election on Aug. 9. The winner will advance to Election Day on Nov. 8 to face the Democratic candidate.
Our Congressman Pete Stauber sent me an email asking, “Why aren’t we cracking down on crime?” Our ex-policeman ought to look in the mirror. He has twice sworn an oath to God to preserve America’s democracy as our congressman. But since President Donald Trump’s attempted overthrow of our democracy, Stauber has acted more like a cop on the take, twiddling his thumbs.
His party, my party, was founded by Abraham Lincoln, who, after a great war called for malice toward none. But while Lincoln put a Democratic vice president on his ticket, Stauber’s Republicans seem to be competing to see who hates Democrats the most. Trump supporters beat police who tried to stop them from hunting down Vice President Mike Pence. Why isn’t Stauber cracking down?
I’ve spent a lifetime honoring my family’s Republicans. After Brown v. Topeka Board of Education integrated schools, my parents moved into a Topeka neighborhood, where I would attend a school that was about to be integrated. My grandfather’s next-door neighbor was an escaped slave, and George Robb became an officer of the famed Harlem Hellfighters, Black soldiers who fought in the trenches of France in World War I. Shot to hell, Grandfather was awarded a medal of honor. In the Second World War, he wrote a letter to his alma mater, insisting it enroll a Japanese-American student who would otherwise have been sent to an American internment camp. My grandfather could not have conceived of a Republican congressman abetting a presidential coup.
I’ve watched Republicans weed out moderates since Big Tent Reagan left office. Partisan offices were off-limits for me, so I took my talents to the Duluth School Board. I think I served with candor, humor, common sense, and the courage not not to stick my finger in the air to test the wind. Our city’s first charter school needed my support. If I had remained on the board, our community would have been able to vote on the now-infamous Red Plan.
Although I had an iffy run at teaching, the School Board gave me 12 years to prove my devotion to children and their future. What are we leaving them? I am aghast at the wanton destruction of the earth’s environment. Stauber talked Trump into opening the most vulnerable parts of the Boundary Waters to the potential of leaking mining waste. We should instead fund more research to neutralize sulfur and share this knowledge with the world. Similar Minnesota research on enriching low-grade taconite ore reinvigorated the Iron Range. Judging by Republicans’ distrust of science during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stauber may be the wrong congressman to support education and science. Like Trump, he spread death by shunning masks.
I read history to better anticipate the future. At a Republican convention in 1992, I warned that the preoccupation with coddling the rich would lead Republicans to a “Donald Trump.” I was showered with boos.
The unborn, on the other hand, have become so important that Republicans packed the Supreme Court. Soon, desperate women may be put in jail for trying not to bear the fruit of rapists.
When I was 12, my grandfather told me never to vote for a Democrat, and yet he had many Democrats for friends. In recent years, I’ve found few Republicans I could vote for in good conscience. I seem to be the last one I know who likes Democrats. We need someone in Congress like me.
Please remember that every Minnesota voter has a right to vote in the Republican primary on Aug. 9. Independents and Democrats can help bring balance to America by casting a vote for me.
And, one more thing. When I take this oath, I will mean it: I, Harry Welty, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Harry Welty of Duluth is running as a Republican to represent Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.