I want to thank you all for coming today, and welcome you to the first convention, of the new First District, where we will choose our first candidate for Congress to represent all of southern Minnesota.
I also want to thank my mom and dad, Ottar and Dolores Andreasen, my brother-in- law, Tim McNamara, and of course Lynn and her daughter Sarah, for being here today.
My mom and dad met in Minneapolis in the 1950's, married, and settled down to raise their family in Minnesota. My father worked for over 30 years for the phone company. My mother worked for over 20 years for Daytons.
My dad was a member of the Communication Workers of America. So many of the opportunities my sister Jean and I have had can be traced to a simple fact: my dad had a secure job, and a good wage, and good benefits, and a good retirement. Union negotiators fought for a living wage and benefits for my family, and for so many other families. And I will fight hard to protect the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively, so children in every family can make the most of their lives.
I am proud today to have been recommended for endorsement by the AFL-CIO.
I also want to thank Don Ostrom, for his speech today, and for his patient guidance over the past twenty years. Don was my advisor at Gustavus - he didn't realize then it would be a lifetime commitment. I came to Don almost twenty years ago when I needed a recommendation from him for the Humphrey Institute. He must have made me sound pretty good, because I got in. After I earned my degree, I was given the opportunity to go to Washington and serve as a Presidential Management Intern at the State Department.
My first day on the job, I took an oath: to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. That was a memorable day for me - a 25 year old from Minnesota - being given the opportunity to work for his country.
I served my country for 14 years, working in three Administrations, Democrat and Republican, at the Department of State, the staff of the United States Senate, and the White House on the National Security Council staff.
It is true that I know my way around Washington, not as an insider but as a public servant for the people of my home state and for the United States. I think that's good experience for someone who is applying for the job of representing you in Congress. It means that I'll be able to hit the ground running for you next January.
For more than a year, I've had the opportunity to sit down with many of you, in your homes and farms, in restaurants, and at community meetings, to talk about issues that matter to you, and your families.
I'm convinced we can win this year's race for Congress in the First District. And here's why:
First, we have the energy, and we have the enthusiasm. You can feel it here today. Democrats, across the new First District, have come together to launch a successful candidate for Congress. And we are not alone. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans are ready for a new voice for the new First District.
Second, Democrats are on the right side of the issues.
Many of you are concerned, as am I, that the House of Representatives isn't making much progress in helping working families.
Think back, a year ago, to the President's first State of the Union address. The President said then we had a $5.6 trillion dollar surplus, inherited from the previous, Democratic, Administration. Promises were made: not to spend Social Security and Medicare on other federal programs; to provide a prescription drug benefit to all seniors; to increase federal aid to education; and of course, to have a tax cut.
One year later - what we got - or at least some people got - was a tax cut. A tax cut where close to 40 percent of the benefits went to the wealthiest one percent of Americans.
We are still waiting for a prescription drug benefit for all seniors; the Administration's own education initiative is under-funded, and the federal government is still not paying its share of special education costs; and under the budget that Congress is considering right now, we will be spending Social Security and Medicare dollars on other federal programs for the next decade.
Democrats understand that protecting our society, our seniors, and our children requires more than just increasing the size of the defense budget. We need to move issues like restoring fiscal balance, education, health care, prescription drugs, protecting our environment, and rebuilding our nation's roads and bridges back to the front burner. And I will.
Democrats also understand that we need to move forward with urgent reforms - in agriculture, campaigns, and protecting worker's pensions.
We simply cannot sustain political support indefinitely for a system of farm subsides that gives a disproportionate share of the benefits to the wealthiest farmers. At the same, Congress needs to support policies and programs that ensure that our rural communities can survive in today's global economy. We must create and sustain rural jobs; improve our rural transportation and information infrastructure; and make sure that our rural centers for education remain strong.
We also need further reforms of our political system, reforms that make the system more competitive.
And we must pass reforms - including greater diversity, transparency and accountability - that protect workers from the next Enron and restore faith in corporate America.
On foreign policy, Democrats will do what needs to be done to win the war on terrorism and defend our nation, and at the same time, defend the rights of all Americans under the Constitution.
Democrats and Minnesotans also want Congress to carefully consider the next steps in the war on terrorism. Many of you here have raised this issue with me. I will use my experience in this area to represent you on these important issues, and I will not hesitate to speak up, on your behalf, in Congress.
The third reason I'm confident we can win this seat this year is that Minnesotans understand how important this year's election is, to our communities, our state, and our nation.
Last year, our country was attacked. Our economy has been put at risk by reckless budget and tax policies passed by Congress. And there is a battle for reform - reform in agriculture, campaign finance, and protecting worker's pensions - raging in Washington.
Who controls the Congress next January will make a difference in every one of these areas. And Minnesota is the key battleground state. Whether or not Paul Wellstone is re-elected this year may decide control of the Senate. And if Democrats in Minnesota can win the First,Second and Sixth Congressional Districts, we will do our part to take back the House of Representatives. The eyes of the nation will be watching Minnesota on Election Day - and they are going to like what they see.
I was truly fortunate to be born and raised in the state of Minnesota. In Minnesota, we understand that each one of us can make a difference. Together, we can make a difference now, today, in this room. We know how important this election is; we know we are on the right side of the issues; and we have the energy and the enthusiasm to win in November.
The new First District is ready for a new voice in Congress, someone who will represent all of southern Minnesota with an independent voice, with both our economy and our security at stake in this election.
We can, and we will be, that voice.
I ask for your support.
Paid for and authorized by Andreasen for Congress