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Sen. Tina Smith wants to ‘move Minnesota forward’

With Tuesday’s primaries rapidly approaching, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (DFL) urged Minnesota’s voters to come to the polls on Aug. 14.

Smith and the Austin Daily Herald held a phone interview on Friday afternoon to discuss her ongoing campaign before primaries.

Smith brings experience from serving as the former Chief of Staff to both Mayor R.T. Rybak and Gov. Mark Dayton. In 2014, Smith served as lieutenant governor. She was then appointed to temporarily fill a vacancy that was caused by former Sen. Al Franken’s departure after allegations of sexual misconduct and public scrutiny prompted him to resign in January 2018.

“I will be a strong voice for Minnesota in D.C. and I’m willing to work with anyone in good faith to get things done,” Smith said. “I’m not afraid to stand up to anybody not wanting to move Minnesota forward. I urge people to vote in the primaries and in November. I’d be grateful to have the support from voters in Austin, Minnesota.”

During next week’s DFL primary, Smith will be up against Richard Painter and Nick Leonard. The winners from the DFL and GOP primaries will then head off to the general elections on Nov. 6, and the winner voted from the elections will serve the remaining two years left of Franken’s term. Smith had to campaign and appeal to voters within the short timeframe that she was given. She’s been visiting all of Minnesota’s 87 counties and held dialogues with residents.

Here were some of the campaign issues that Smith focused on:


Among the most common concerns that Minnesotans had approached Smith with was the rising costs of healthcare.

“The number one issue is health care,” Smith said. “People in Minnesota have real worries about how they can afford health care and prescription drugs with high costs. …I will continue to keep this in my focus if I win elections in November. I hear people talking about what to do with rising health care costs.”

On Wednesday, Smith had announced plans to introduce legislation that was designed to hold large pharmaceutical companies accountable for high prices and to lower costs for both consumers and taxpayers. She stated that this new measure would increase transparency for drug companies that are setting high prices and end the restriction preventing the federal Medicare program using its power to negotiate lower drug prices for beneficiaries.


Smith criticized the Trump Administration’s tariffs, which she stated adversely affected soybean and corn producers and hoped for negotiations. She stated that while the country needs to take action in addressing trading practices threatening jobs in the country, however, she disagreed with the approach.

“I’m proud of that bill that provided much needed relief that causes our farmers problems with prices being so low,” Smith said. “The president’s retaliatory tariffs are really hurting producers in Minnesota across the board and it really needs to resolve. We ought to be focused on negotiating a solution. Our farmers don’t have time.”

Higher Education

During her campaign, Smith stated that she supported a strong public education system. She supports making all-day kindergarten accessible to all children statewide, and expand early childhood programs. She also addressed her commitment to discuss the high cost of higher education, and student debt as a member of the Senate Education Committee.

However, Smith also stated that not every person was meant to go to a four-year college, and wanted to increase investments in career and technical education and vocational training, while at the same time addressing the workforce labor shortages that affected the country, and in Southeast Minnesota.

“I’ve worked really hard to make higher education more affordable for students, and how we can make options for post-secondary education more available for students,” she said. “There is a real gap that’s being created in IT and construction trades like welding and mechanics.”

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