Gil Gutknecht entered Congress in 1994 as a solidier in the Republican revolution being led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is gone, and Gutknecht has found his own path, bucking his party in on key issues such as the nation's milk policy, a crucial concern to this district, and the importation of prescription drugs. In the race for the GOP nomination to the 1st District U.S. House seat in 1994, Gutknecht defeated former U.S. Rep. Arlen Erdahl, in part by trying to claim retiring incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Penny's mantle of fiscal conservatism. A trained auctioneer, Gutknecht is known for his quick tongue. Gutknecht was giving a speech on trade policy on the House floor in July 1998 when the shots were fired at the Capitol. Gutknecht and a few other congressmen who were present were held for about 20 minutes in an office off the House chamber. Gutknecht then returned to the floor to give a second speech.
In the most recent session, Gutknecht joined a group of House Republicans pressing for prescription drug bill provisions that would allow the importation of U.S.-made pharmaceuticals sold more cheaply abroad and would help push low-cost generic drugs onto the market.
Close to home, Gutknecht in August of 2002 voiced his support for expansion plans by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, despite opposition to the project from many constituents in Mankato and Rochester who are concerned about noice and traffic problems.
Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons agreed to transfer Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up landmarks in New York and Washington, from Rochester's Federal Medical Center to a federal prison in Colorado. Gutknecht had been seeking the transfer for months.
Gutknecht serves on the House Budget; Agriculture; and Science and Technology committees. The American Conservative Union gave Gutknecht's 2000 voting record a score of 92 points out of a possible 100; the liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave him 5 points.
Gil Gutknecht was elected to the U.S. House in 1994 with 55 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat
John Hottinger. He was re-elected in 1996 with 53 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Mary Rieder. In 1998, Gutknecht was re-elected defeating Democrat Tracy Beckman with 55 percent of the vote. Facing Rieder again, he was re-elected in 2000 with 56 percent of the vote. Gutknecht said some of the big issues on which he'll campaign in 2002 include defense spending, the budget, tax and Social Security reform and prescription drug importation.