Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 26, 2001

Kennedy thanks McLeod Republicans for making a difference in his election

By Rich Glennie

First-year 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., was the keynote speaker at the McLeod County Republican convention Saturday morning in the commissioners room at the courthouse in Glencoe.

Kennedy said he came to the McLeod County convention to thank them for electing him to Congress.

"You guys really did make a difference in winning the race," Kennedy said of the 155 vote margin of victory over incumbent Congressman David Minge, D-Minn., last fall.

"When you win by one vote in every five precincts, it does make a difference," Kennedy added.

On the job for two months, Kennedy said he is trying to make a difference by doing the things in Congress that Republicans believe in.

He said he has co-sponsored a bill to eliminate the marriage tax penalty. Since marriage is one of the core family values, "I don't understand why we tax marriage."

He said President George W. Bush's tax bill was passed in the U.S. House and that will average about $1,600 in less taxes per family. But he said the tax package is expected to run into stiff opposition in the U.S. Senate.

Kennedy also pointed to the override of President Bill Clinton's OSHA ergonomics bill, "that would have had a devastating effect on the economy." He said the bill, which would regulate work place safety even in homes, would have cost $100 billion to implement.

The bill, if not overridden, would have become effective in April, Kennedy said. "It was absolute insanity under the name of workers' safety."

Kennedy said he has been appointed to two committees that are important to rural Minnesotans, the ag committee and the transportation committee. Both are important in the 2nd District in order to get farm commodities to market, he said.

Another of his goals is to visit all 41 health care facilities in the 2nd District. Kennedy said he favors a move toward consumer choice in health care and away from the current managed care system.

Since the federal government funds 70 percent to 80 percent of health care costs, he said, "He who has the gold rules." Because of that, Kennedy said he fears the nation is moving in the direction of rationing health care.

Kennedy also said he has joined the prolife caucus in the House, and he expected the Bush administration, along with the caucus, "will make progress on prolife issues."

The Republican party is now gearing up for the 2002 elections, Kennedy said, with an eye on defeating U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.

"It will be a tough race, but we can beat Wellstone and also take the governorship back," Kennedy said, but it will take a major effort.

He said former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, who lost last fall to Mark Dayton, won all four outstate districts. "But we have to win those districts by a lot," Kennedy said, in order to overcome the Democrats' strong showing in the metro areas. "It's tough to be a fiscal and social conservative in the Twin Cities districts."

He exhorted the Republicans "to be everywhere" talking about the issues that are important.

Tony Sutton, state executive director of the Republican party, said Kennedy's victory last fall gave the Republicans three congressmen from Minnesota for the first time in 10 years.

He also pointed out that President Bush came within 2.4 percent of winning the popular vote in Minnesota, a state solidly in the Democratic camp for years.

Sutton said that put Minnesota up for grabs in the next election, and the state is now considered a battleground state.

"Our ideas are winning (support)," Sutton told the GOP faithful.

While millions of dollars were spent on the state campaigns, Sutton said, "It's only important if you have the right ideas and right candidates."

Sutton said the trends in the country show voters are either voting more Republican or at least voting more conservatively.

"Our ideas are winning, but we can't rest on our laurels," Sutton said. "We need to keep articulating our ideas - lower taxes, individual responsibility, keeping government off our backs and strengthening the family."

Sutton also pointed to a tax rally scheduled for April 7 at the state Capitol. "It is important to give our legislators support as they go up against Jesse (Gov. Ventura) and the Democrats. Jesse always talks tax cuts, but he always caves in at the end."

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