Former U student seeks district congressional seat

by Chris Vetter

The 5th Congressional District, which includes the University’s Minneapolis campus, has been a Democratic stronghold for years. One candidate is working to win the seat for the Republican Party, however.
Jack Uldrich, who received his master’s degree in public administration from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, is running against Martin Sabo, DFL-Minn., for the seat Sabo now holds in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Martin Sabo is extremely vulnerable,” Uldrich said. “I’m going to challenge Sabo to debate on urban issues. He is not responsive to the rights and needs of his constituents.”
Sabo, former chairman of the House Budget Committee, has had few close challenges to his seat since he first won it in 1978. He defeated Dorothy LeGrande in 1994 with a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent. Sabo could not be reached for comment.
The 5th Congressional District includes all of Minneapolis, Crystal, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and parts of Edina.
Uldrich describes himself as a fiscal conservative and said his main issues are balancing the budget and reforming Social Security.
University students are important and a group he must reach, Uldrich said. He added that he thinks University students agree with his message.
“Ask students if they think Social Security will be there when they retire and they’ll say no,” Uldrich said.
He said that college students should care about balancing the budget immediately.
“Because we haven’t balanced the budget, interest rates are higher than they should be,” Uldrich said. College students “are going to have to pay for past excess,” he added.
Uldrich is the former state director of the Concord Coalition, a fiscally conservative nonpartisan organization dedicated to balancing the budget.
Uldrich said his moderate, budget-cutting message will allow him to defeat Sabo.
“I have bridged the gap between conservative and moderate Republicans,” Uldrich said. “I can also capture the fiscal Democrats.”
Despite Uldrich’s fiscally conservative message, he does not have the support of the College Republicans. Members of the group said Uldrich is too moderate on abortion rights and gay rights and is not a conservative at all.
“I don’t even know why he’s in the Republican Party,” said College Republican member Orlando Ochoada.
Ochoada said any College Republican who wants to work on a campaign will be working for U.S. Senate candidate Bert McKasy, “a true conservative.”
Gay rights are important to Uldrich. He attended Minneapolis’ Pride parade last month and said he thinks gay and lesbian couples should have the same benefits as married couples.
“The majority of Americans want gays to have power of attorney and health benefits for their partner,” Uldrich said.
Although he was unchallenged at the convention, Uldrich narrowly won the 5th Congressional District endorsement. He received 62 percent of the vote, slightly more than the 60 percent candidates must get to receive the endorsement.
“Jack is very unpopular among delegates because of social issues,” said Matt Heikes, a former College Republican chairman and 1996 University graduate. “He’s going to have a hard time raising money within the party because he’s so liberal.”
But Uldrich said he didn’t expect the College Republican endorsement.
“They are a more conservative group than myself,” Uldrich said. “I don’t typically appeal to these sort of people.”
College Republicans are too single-issue oriented, notably as abortion opponents and gun rights advocates, Uldrich said.
Uldrich is a lifelong resident of Minneapolis. He has served in the Navy and was appointed policy analyst to the assistant secretary of defense for international affairs. He majored in economics and political science at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and studied at the University of Durham, England.
“Our message resonates much better (than Sabo’s),” Uldrich said. “I can articulate the facts.”