WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 2018 race for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District was a bruising one for the two lead candidates.
A lot of outside national money was spent, and hit both candidates with countless negative ads.
Democrat Joe Radinovich was framed as a pot-smoker who enjoyed being as high as his pile of unpaid parking tickets, and Republican Pete Stauber was slammed for sending campaign emails with his county email address — a judge eventually forcing those emails to be made public.
A lot of time was spent talking about topics unrelated to the issues facing the district, and in the end, Pete Stauber emerged as the man headed for Washington, where Dan Wolfe spent much of last week.
On Wednesday night, we showed you what it’s like for him adjusting to life in D.C., and how he’s dealing with the shutdown, but now Stauber speaks out on the bipartisan legacy he says he wants to build, and what he has done while in office so far.
Stauber says he has taken lessons from the campaign trail to heart.
“In a lot of ways, you have to have thick skin, you have to have empathy, you have to be sympathetic to the causes,” say Stauber.
His office also shows the issues he finds most important.
“Mining is our past, present and future.”
Throughout his campaign, Stauber constantly talked about the need to quote unleash the economic engine of the 8th district, and he says mining, specifically for copper and nickle, is the key.
“Well, right now we’re looking at the first copper nickle mine waiting on its last permit. that’s going to bring close to 550 million dollars of economic activity to northeast Minnesota every year for about 20 years,” says Stauber.
Although a lot has been made of the 8th District turning red, Stauber’s very first course of action was to take up his Democratic predecessor’s unfinished business.
A little more than a year ago, former 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan spoke on the floor about his Polymet land exchange legislation, which regarded the environment, jobs, and community.
The swap would pave the way for Minnesota’s first copper nickle mine.
Although the bill passed the House, it ran out of luck in the Senate.
Stauber is working to pick up where Nolan left off, and is reintroducing a bipartisan bill with similar language.
However, environmentalists have ripped the project, saying there’s a high risk of pollution to pristine waterways, pointing to environmental disasters at copper nickle sites in other parts of the world.
Stauber says Minnesota can do it better and safer.
“We’re blessed to have that rich copper nickel mine, which is probably the biggest deposit in the world where we’re going to mine it safely and keep the environment pristine, that’s our goal. every environmental standard we’ll have met or exceeded,” says Stauber, who shares that sentiment with Nolan.
Stauber says their bipartisan relationship goes beyond just mining and the Iron Range.
“You know, I have to say Congressman Nolan himself his office and staff were tremendous in our transition. Nolan was gracious with his time and comments… he did a lot of good things, I’m grateful I got to know him and learn from him.
As he’s just getting started in Washington, the new congressman says when it’s all said and done, he wants his legacy to be simple: that he was fair, honest, and worked on behalf of the people.
“That’s an important sign by the entry of the office and that means more to me: ‘This office belongs to the citizens of Miinnesota’s 8th Congressional District.’ I’m just occupying it for a period of time.”
Check out Dan’s full interview with Congressman Pete Stauber below: