Pete Stauber was a Duluth police officer for 23 years. He was a Hermantown city councilor for eight years. He's serving his second term as an elected member of the St. Louis County Board. He was a union organizer and union president. And he's a business owner; he and his brothers started the Duluth Hockey Company 28 years ago.
After a year of campaigning, Stauber also remains the candidate Republican voters can pick to advance from the Aug. 14 primary to the Nov. 6 general election in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
"I have a passion to serve," Stauber said in a candidate-screening interview this month with News Tribune Editorial Board members. "Even though I'm only 52 years old, I feel like I'm racing Father Time to make sure I can bring the country to the middle where it should be. That's how I've governed, and that's how I will govern. I see a lot of dysfunction, a lot of division in Washington. The divisiveness is unbelievable. We feel it in America. It needs to end."
Supporters for the five DFL candidates vying to face Stauber this fall have soundly blasted him after he shared a stage with President Donald Trump at a rally in Duluth in June. He doesn't shy away from addressing the critics.
"When (Trump's) legislative agenda helps us, I'll be all on board. When it doesn't, I won't," Stauber said. "I am going to support initiatives that help the 8th Congressional District. I will not blindly follow anybody, whether it's the president of the United States or the mayor of Duluth.
"If you think I'm (going) to Washington to vote 'Republican good,' 'Democrat bad,' I'm the wrong candidate," Stauber further said. "When you work on behalf of the party alone, which is happening, nothing gets done. I have some ways to be able to work across party lines. I am open-minded."
No-new-taxes Republicans certainly didn't agree when Stauber supported a half-percent sales tax to fund highway and bridge repairs in St. Louis County. He voted for it because it was the right thing to do for his constituents and for the county, he said.
Those on the right also don't like that Stauber is opposed right-to-work. He instead remains pro-union.
"I'm not going there to be a robot," he said of Congress.
Asked what should be done to curb gun violence, Stauber, who was shot in the line of duty in 1995, replied, "We need to respect life. Every life matters. ... Why are we looking to Congress to fix school violence? That's fixed at the kitchen table. ... Every school needs to be safe. Let the local people make those decisions about how."
Asked if he was concerned about clean water with copper-nickel mining on the horizon in Northeastern Minnesota, he said, "Always concerned, and that's why we have our EPA and state regulations. We will have met and exceeded every one of (the regulations). That's the goal. It's not either-or. (It's not clean water or metals mining.) We can do both. We will do both and bring good-paying jobs to our region."
Asked about the economy, Stauber pointed to low unemployment.
"That's wonderful," he said. "The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the old, worn-out, tired argument that it's just for the rich, etc., I don't buy that at all. If you look at the 8th District, (Republican tax cuts returned) $1,733 per taxpayer. That's real money for this blue-collar, conservative district. To the greatest extent possible, you want to remove those barriers, those redundant overburdened barriers, that are put on our small businesses."
Stauber's Republican opponent on Aug. 14 is former Duluth School Board member Harry Welty.
"What we don't need is to have a whole lot of people elected to Congress who are going to be little Donald Trump clones," he said. "That's why I'm running, because right now there'd be no challenge for Pete Stauber, who is a decent and honorable man."
Stauber is also the pick for Republicans in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District in the Aug.14 primary.
ABOUT THIS ENDORSEMENT
This endorsement editorial was determined entirely by the Duluth News Tribune Editorial Board. The members of the board are Publisher Neal Ronquist, Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick, employee representative Kris Vereecken and citizen representative Julene Boe.