Republican congressional candidate Erik Paulsen's campaign says his DFL opponent Ashwin Madia lacks the "suburban life experience" to represent Minnesota's 3rd District.
"Raising a family in the district, sending your kids to the public school, owning a home, working in the 3rd District, paying property taxes in the 3rd District. Erik Paulsen has done all these things. And Ashwin Madia has not," said state Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who spoke on behalf of the Paulsen campaign at a press conference today.
Michel questions Madia's suburban bona fides. Listen
And Michel argues those distinctions matter to voters.
"Do you feel what my family feels trying to save for college?" he asked. "Do you feel what my family feels sending our kids to public schools? When you talk about No Child Left Behind and the growth of the federal government's role in education, do you feel that as a father? These are all important, sort of minimum requirements for a member of Congress from the 3rd District."
Paulsen, 43, is a state legislator and father of four. Madia, 30, is a bachelor, and he's making his first run for office. He's also a lawyer and an Iraq war veteran.
"That is certainly something to be applauded, but it's not a shortcut to Congress," Michel said.
The Madia campaign called the press conference "desperate" and "offensive," and said it smacked of a "failing campaign."
"I think the key things in this race are going to be the issues, and how we handle two wars and an economic crisis, not whether someone lives in this city or that," said state Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, speaking for the Madia campaign. "I think people want answers and results and they're not much concerned about someone's mortgage."
Michel called Madia a "carpetbagger," because Madia wasn't living in the district when he decided to run for Congress. But Madia's campaign says he has strong ties to Minneapolis suburbs.
Madia's parents moved to the 3rd District when he was a junior in high school, and his family still lives there. After college and law school, Madia joined the Marine Corps and went to Iraq.
Madia had been living in Minneapolis and working at a law firm there last year, when Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad announced he wasn't running for re-election. That set off one of the most competitive congressional contests in the country. Madia decided to enter the race.
He now rents an apartment in Plymouth, which is part of the district.
Simon, the Madia campaign's official surrogate, pointed out that Ramstad, who holds the seat Madia and Paulsen are seeking, doesn't have children either.
"The voters continuously and repeatedly returned [Ramstad] to office, because he commanded respect from so many people on such a broad level," Simon said. "And I think the same thing is happening here, and I think that scares the people who are behind in this election."
The Madia campaign plans a press conference tomorrow to respond to the Paulsen campaign's criticisms.
This attack feels pretty high risk, like it could backfire several ways.
For instance, with the Madia campaign's response about Ramstad's kids.
More importantly, I have to wonder what voters think - like "This is what you want to talk about?"
I'm frankly surprised that this didn't come up earlier. To have a guy who has spent all of 2 years living in the district attempting to represent all of us in DC doesn't feel right to me.
Madia might be the right guy to represent the 5th CD, but Keith Ellison already has that job.
Paulsen feels right for the 3rd.
There press conference was an insult to Madia, his family, and an other resident in the 3rd that doesn't fit Paulsen and Michel's warped mentality of what a suburban family is. They owe Madia a huge apology. Since you opened the floodgates, what about them bringing kids into this and talking about them being in public schools...that may be the case now, but why don't you check the facts and find out how long they've actually been in the public schools....can you say "home schooled" until recently. It seems like fairly nice timeing on his part to have them enrolled in the Eden Prairie schools now. By the way, this isn't an issue for me, other than maybe it helps explain some of his voting record on Education bills in the House.
Hmmmm! To the best of my recollection, Jim Ramstad was not married when he was first elected and I do not believe he has any children. Does this disqualify him from serving the 3rd Congressional District. This is a brand new litmus test...He doesn't look like me therefore he should not be elected.
Seems like Paulsen is grasping at straws. Voters don't care about his home and family. They want action on issues. Using this kind of tactic shows a huge lack of integrity. I'm very surprised he would allow such low brow behavior from his campaign managers. This shows what kind of man will be in the seat if elected. If you aren't part of his little "club", you don't matter. Bad form Paulsen.
Team Madia has responded to the Paulsen campaign attacks in an afternoon press conference today:
In true Madia fashion, Ashwin stepped up the to microphone HIMSELF to address the Paulsen campaign’s personal attacks. I like that about Ash… he projects a strong commitment to direct communications with the voters, so they will know what he stands for.
I wonder why Erik Paulsen is so reluctant to speak directly to voters?
Madia: Ready to Lead
Gee, maybe we should exclude divorced people - with or without kids. I mean, they can't keep a relationship together. Or recovering alcoholics - they might try to pass a mental health bill! Or perhaps those who weren't virgins when they got married. How can they know true committment?
George Bush is married with kids, and look where he got us. Tim Pawlenty is married with kids - has he really looked out for the public schools or the middle class? No! He made his bed with the elites.
Madia is an honorable person with honorable values who will look out for people of all backrounds.
Mr. Paulson should circulate the district more. He obviously doesn't get out enough.
Why should Paulsen speak directly to voters? That's why he has paid Michael Brodkorb $6,000 to be his mouthpiece and media pimp.
Michel, Carey, Brodkorb...with people like these speaking for him, Paulsen has assured himself of loosing this election handily. I would be embarrassed to have these people working for or talking for me.....they are the ones who don't "fit" in the 3rd CD i live in, where people care about their neighbors no matter what their skin color is, their faith is, their sexual orientation is, their income earned, are they married, do they have children?...need I say more. After listening to Michel and Carey today I know why I'm no longer a Republican.
Oh noes! He's never owned a home?!? My pearls!
Let me see....Michel called Madia a Carpetbagger I can only construe this as Michel and Paulsen feeling Madia hasn't "done his time" in the 3rd district and therefore is not fit to serve Congress!
Being a former Marine and veteran of the Vietnam war I too was a "Carpetbagger" in the Michel definition....I lived with my parents, went into the Marines, got shipped over to Vietnam and then returned home and lived with my parents breifly while I found a place to rent. I rented, worked and then saved to purchase my own home!
I too could have been called a Carpetbagger because my service to our country required me to move out of my Congressional District!
I take his comments (many of them and not only limited to this) as offensive and also as putting down every man and women who is required to leave their "Congressional District" in order to serve in our Military!
Has Mr. Michel served anywhere besides the waiting line at Caribou Coffee?
Erik Paulsen is a father of four and he wants to spend the better part of the next two years in DC? Is he planning on bringing the kids with him or leave them at home with Mom? Nice family values.
Wow, I think I'm giving up entirely on Minnesota Public Radio. Talk about a stack of people with the same viewpoint.
The topics of family, home ownership, paying a mortgage and actually living here more than just in your childhood are all relevant. I believe I just captured the profile of most of the citizens of the 3rd.
And then we have Madia, who paints himself as a veteran of combat, when in fact he wore a suit & tie and lived in the Green Zone. I have many friends and some family who are veterans. His charade is demeaning to them all.