U students, skilled politicians face off

Stephanie Kudrle

Minnesota’s Republican Party announced candidates to oppose two of the state’s most seasoned politicians last weekend at the State Republican Convention in St. Paul.

University senior Amanda Hutchings will face off against long-time Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, for the State House seat Kahn has held since 1972.

Republican Daniel Mathias will try to unseat Rep. Martin Sabo, a Democratic congressman who has represented Minnesota’s fifth district since 1978.

Both races are for districts that include the University and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Hutchings, who will graduate with a triple major from the University in December, said she decided to run for the nomination after prompting from some University officials and legislators.

“We just need a change,” Hutchings said. “(Kahn) has been representing this district for almost 32 years now, with nothing substantial to show.”

She said she will focus on issues important to students, such as lower tuition, more affordable housing and increased safety on campus.

“I would push for a more effective handling of the budget,” she said. “The University is doing pretty good, but they still need to cut the fat.”

Kahn, who is running for her 17th term as a state representative, said her experience and long history of service to the state are assets to University students.

Kahn said she thinks most college students will consider Hutchings’ ideas “off-the-wall.” She specifically noted that Hutchings was opposed to abortion and stem cell research.

“I would love to have a series of debates on campus,” Kahn said. “I want to point out how bad Republicans at every level have been for the University.”

Mathias has received the Republican endorsement to run against Sabo this November.

He said although he is running in a traditionally liberal district, he feels a change is needed in Congress to get issues accomplished at home.

“We need to improve education within Minneapolis and bring minority students up to par with white students,” he said.

Mathias said his positions differ vastly from Sabo’s, particularly on the war in Iraq.

Sabo was one of a few Congress members to vote against the initiative authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

Some of Sabo’s top priorities during his years in office have included securing federal funds for homeland security, public transit, community-based organizations, airport noise mitigation and cleaner water, according to his Web site.

An estimated 3,000 Republicans attended the conference over the weekend to endorse candidates for local and national races in Minnesota, according to the party Web site.

Tony Richter, vice chair of the College Republicans at the University, said he enjoyed himself at the conference.

“After attending, I felt optimistic for the party on both a state and national level,” he said. “Republicans have good issues to run on this year and are good at organizing.”

He said Bush has a good shot at winning Minnesota this year because the Republican Party is growing in Minnesota.

“We are working hard for his cause because this is a time of change and it is of the utmost importance to win Minnesota for Bush,” Richter said.

The convention was also used as a memorial to former President Ronald Reagan, whose funeral was held in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Although much of the weekend was spent honoring Reagan, William Flanigan, a political science professor at the University, said it would be a mistake for Republicans to try to capitalize on his legacy.

“It could backfire,” he said. “Many Reagan supporters are a little hostile toward Bush.”

He also said although Republicans would like to think Bush could win the state this year, Minnesota will probably vote for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

“I don’t know what they think the gains are,” he said. “But as it gets closer to the election, Republicans will probably give up on Minnesota.”