Housley touts free-market solutions to health care

October 13, 2018

GOP Senate candidate Karin Housley talks with people at Sominn Machinery Sales in Dodge Center for a “Lunch and Learn” event Thursday. She is running against Tina Smith, who currently holds the seat.

GOP candidate Karin Housley brought her campaign for the U.S. Senate to Dodge Center Thursday, portraying her DFL opponent, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, as a behind-the-scenes “career politician” and herself as the free-market alternative to the “socialized” health care that she said her opponent favors.

“Health care is the No. 1 issue (in this election),” said Housley. “We had really good health care here in the state of Minnesota before Obamacare came in here and failed Minnesotans.”

Housley, a state senator from St. Mary’s Point, delivered her remarks to an audience of about 40 workers and guests at Sominn Machinery Sales in Dodge Center. The owner, JJ Francis, and Housley are connected by geography and family ties, both having grown up in South St. Paul.

Housley’s campaign stop in Dodge Center came less than a month before the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Housley is vying to unseat Smith, who was appointed to the job by Gov. Mark Dayton after Al Franken resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The winner will fill out the two years remaining of the term.

A new NBC News/Marist poll showed Smith with a double-digit lead over Housley in the special election, but Housley dismissed the poll as flawed and “one-sided.” She noted, moreover, that Donald Trump was 10 points down on Election Day in 2016, but lost Minnesota in a squeaker by only 2 points.

“The environment on the ground is much different than what I’m hearing in the news and the mainstream media,” Housley said.

Housley described herself as a someone who would support President’s Trump’s economic agenda, but would not be afraid to criticize him if she felt it was warranted. When the Trump administration began separating children from their parents at the border as they were entering the U.S. illegally, Housley said she let the administration know she opposed the policy. The president later rescinded it.

“I have never been a rubber stamp for anybody, nor would I be,” Housley said.

While a harsh critic of Obamacare, Housley said she was not opposed to all elements of the health care measure that is generally considered anathema by Republicans. She supports measures that guarantee people with pre-existing conditions can get and keep health insurance. Young people should be able to stay on their parents’ health plan until 26.

The wife of hockey Hall of Famer and Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley, she said she didn’t give much thought to politics until she realized that taxes were eating much of the earnings of her real estate business. Recruited by GOP state Sen. Dave Senjem of Rochester, Housley showed a flair for politics, narrowly losing her first bid for a seat in the state Senate in a predominately Democratic district.

She won her next election by 1 point and the following one by 25 points.

“It made me feel good to know that what I was doing was the right thing,” Housley said.

When the GOP took control of the Senate in 2016, Housley advocated for the creation of a committee focused on seniors and the age-related issues that they face and became chair of the newly formed committee. Housley’s mother is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

She also became a harsh critic of Dayton and Smith, who was lieutenant governor at the time, when it was found that the state Department of Health failed to investigate reports of neglect and abuse in senior care facilities.

Housley said she was determined to run for Senate and be an alternative to Smith, even though the seat has been in DFL hands for nearly a decade.

“(Obamacare) failed Minnesotans,” she said. “Now they want to take it one step further to socialized medicine, which they call single payer. Single payer is taking away all your choice.”

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