Walz, Demmer trade barbs in Minnesota’s First


Rep. Tim Walz and his Republican opponent, Randy Demmer, have been trading barbs frequently at debates in the district and in ads. The volley of claims have kept the fact-checkers busy, and the once quiet race for Congress has been heating up in recent weeks with an influx of independent spending by Republican groups targeting Walz. 

On Wednesday, Walz grilled Demmer on his plan to repeal the health care reform bill. In past debates Demmer has been sharply critical of Walz’s vote for for the federal law.

Walz asked Demmer, “Did you read the bill?”

Rep. Demmer responded: “No. I didn’t.”

That response became a campaign issue for Walz.

“Rep. Demmer is calling for the repeal of the health care law that he admitted today he has not even bothered to take the time to read,” said Walz’ spokeswoman Sara Severs in a statement “That’s not leadership. If you run for Congress and you want to help solve problems in our country, you have to do the work. You have to study the issues and know the details. Rep. Demmer has lost all credibility on the central issue of his campaign. You can’t take him seriously.”

Walz’s campaign told the Minnesota Independent that the congressman had read the bill before voting on it. Demmer’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

Minnesota Public Radio’s Poligraph dinged Walz’s campaign ads for suggesting that Demmer has a plan to privatize Social Security. The fact-checking service notes that Demmer doesn’t have a plan at all for Social Security.

Poligraph deemed the ad false, but it didn’t let Demmer off the hook either. The site evaluated the Republican National Congressional Committee ad in support of Demmer and found it to be false. The NRCC ad says that Walz voted for the stimulus bill which allowed $1.5 billion in green energy funds to “go to companies overseas. Walz helped create jobs in China. And we paid for it.”

Poligraph says, “While it’s true that many wind turbine parts used in U.S. wind farms are made overseas, including China, it’s false to imply that the entire $1.6 billion in the stimulus bill went there.”

The Walz campaign seized on that and called on local stations to quit airing the ad. “The independent Politifact evaluated this claim earlier this year and determined it was ‘false’ and ‘incorrect,'” said Walz attorney and campaign chair Jerry Maschka in a letter to local television stations on Tuesday. “For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should immediately refuse to continue to air this advertisement.”

NRCC created the ads independent of the campaign, but Demmer used the identical talking point in a Monday night debate at Minnesota State University.

That debate also featured a rather interesting quote from Demmer on the history of Israel and Palestine.

He said that “peace talks have been going on between Israel and Palestine for thousands… probably a thousand years.”

That prompted some laughs and a rebuke from Independence Party candidate Steve Wilson. “Probably not a thousand years,” he said.

The once sleepy race for Congress in the First District has heated up thanks to an infusion of cash from national groups such as the NRCC. And it will get an even bigger boost on Demmer’s side with the help of a familiar face: former Sen. Norm Coleman.

His group, American Action Network, which is making independent expenditures against Democrats has announced a $19 million ad campaign targeting House Democrats in 22 districts. Walz is one of those targeted Democrats.