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Race for Minnesota's 2nd District takes shape
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U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican in the 2nd Congressional District, says he and President Bush should be re-elected because they've been tough on terrorism. (MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)
The race for President has been overshadowing some other campaigns in Minnesota. One of them is in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District. The contest between Republican John Kline and DFLer Teresa Daly mirrors many of the issues being discussed in the presidential contest. The war in Iraq is at the top of the list of issues that the two candidates are debating.

St. Paul, Minn. — In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, voters in the 2nd district sent Republican John Kline to Congress. The retired Marine colonel had the perfect resume for the job. Since then, Kline has been an ardent supporter of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the overall war on terror. He says President Bush's plan in Iraq is working well. He also says he and Bush should be reelected so they can continue their work on both domestic and foreign issues.

"We have made an enormous amount of progress in a wide variety of areas," Kline said. "Defense, veterans, economy and education in the less than two years that I've been there. I wish I could take credit for all of it. It's not just because of me, certainly not. I've been pleased to be a part of it."

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Image Teresa Daly

But Kline's challenger, DFLer Teresa Daly, says Kline votes too often with President Bush. Daly is a Burnsville City Council member. She agrees with Kline on some issues, including a ban on gay marriage. They both also support tax cuts and want a limit on federal spending.

But Daly disagrees with Kline's confidence regarding the war in Iraq. She says there needs to be a better plan in place to bring the troops home.

"It would be irresponsible for us to just pull our troops out," Daly said. "But what I've heard recently is some talk of having our troops there for years and years, which is unacceptable. We need a plan where we partner with the global community to give Iraq that support that they need to rebuild their society."

Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District includes the southern Twin Cities suburbs and stretches south into Faribault, Pine Island and Red Wing. The district leans conservative, but portions of it were represented by DFLer Bill Luther in the past. Washington University political science professor Steven Smith says both parties are optimistic they can win it in November.

The Kline district is a competitive one. He hasn't had a lot of time to build support in all parts of the district. There's reasons for both parties to think that if they have the right candidate and the right campaign put together, that they have a chance in that district.
- Steven Smith, Washington University political scientist

"The Kline district is a competitive one," Smith said. "It's a relatively new district. He hasn't had a lot of time to build support in all parts of the district. There are reasons for both parties to think that if they have the right candidate and the right campaign put together, that they have a chance in that district."

Smith says he believes each candidate will raise and spend more than $1 million. He says the bulk of that money will be spent on radio and television advertising, since that's the easiest way for the candidates to introduce themselves to the voters.

Along with national issues like the war, transportation is a hot issue in the district. Scott, Dakota and Carver Counties are some of the fastest growing areas in the state. But while the new housing developments are going up at a rapid pace, the roads can't handle the increasing traffic. That's because they were designed for farmers -- not for 21st century development.

Teresa Daly says Kline hasn't brought enough federal transportation money back into the district.

"Dakota County is struggling to find dollars to fund new projects going forward. They are looking at increases of up to 200,000 in population, and tens of thousands of new jobs going into Dakota County," Daly said. "And MnDOT has no dollars allocated for Dakota County for new road projects for the next 20 years."

Daly says, if elected, she would work with the state and federal government to fund and build new road projects.

But Kline says he is working to get new federal road money for the district. He says he's not happy about how transportation funding is appropriated in Congress.

"Money is not earmarked according to the needs of the district," Kline said. "It's earmarked according to how long you've been in Congress, what committee you're on, and so forth. I have objected to that, and I'm working with leadership to rectify what I think was a terrible mistake."

Kline says another term will increase his seniority, which in turn will mean more transportation money for his district. He also says the voters will benefit from Republican representation, since Republicans control Congress.

Both candidates have several debates scheduled in October.

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