Many of the candidates campaigning to succeed longtime Rep. Martin Sabo in Congress would like to see U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, they don’t agree with the No Child Left Behind Act, and they’d like to keep the government out of people’s personal lives. They also want to see government support for stem cell research and no privatization of Social Security. All these candidates believe their positions on these issues reflect those of Fifth District voters. But only one them is a Republican.
Business consultant, college instructor, and author Alan Fine is running an uphill battle for Congress as the Republican-endorsed candidate in a heavily DFL district. But he’s been raising money, making appearances, and raising a few eyebrows since he jumped into the race last spring. “Everybody’s looking at us under a microscope,” Fine said in a recent interview. “And the press has been rather surprised at some of my viewpoints.”
Fine, the brother of DFL Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine, and a longtime Minneapolis resident, calls himself a “coalition builder” and an independent thinker who deals with issues “on their merits” rather than with some ideological template. “I’m not a lemming,” he said. “I’m willing to listen to everyone.”
His allegiance to the Republican Party comes out of his belief in fiscal conservatism. He favors small government. And, unlike Sabo, he’s not a fan of politicians who make a career out of lobbying for big federal handouts for their districts. “I’m not for pork and I’d fight other pork spending,” he said.
That may not endear him to district voters, who have seen Sabot deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in federally funded projects. But Fine said it’s just a sign of a government that is still running like big businesses used to run in the 1950s. And that has to change. “I want to keep government spending low.”
On foreign policy, he said the U.S. has a responsibility to export capitalism and set high international standards for the environment and human rights.
At home, the government needs to help create jobs, which he sees as the key component to a person’s self respect. “It’s a travesty to see people on the street, begging for money,” he said.
Despite the fact that the DFL has held the seat he’s seeking since 1963, Fine said the election this fall will be wide open. He noted that the Republicans held the same seat from 1887 until 1963. “Minnesotans look at the people,” he said. “They don’t look at the party.”