Voter guide: See 6th District candidates' stances on guns, abortion, more

A man and woman pose for a photo side by side
Tom Emmer, left, and Jeanne Hendricks.
Courtesy photos

Democratic candidate Jeanne Hendricks is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Emmer in Minnesota’s 6th District U.S. House race.

The four-term GOP incumbent, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, is reportedly in another contest: a three-way race in the House Republican Caucus to become the Majority Whip in the upcoming Congress. But first, he’ll have to win the seat on Nov. 8.

Hendricks, 65, is a nurse anesthetist, mother of two and community activist running for the seat, she says, to defend the country’s democracy. She graduated with a nursing degree from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia from Winona State University.

Emmer, 62, is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and later received his law degree from the school now known as Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Emmer is married and the father of seven children.

The four-term congressman is standing up for “Midwest values,” according to his campaign website. “Washington has a spending problem,” the website states. “The national debt is out of control. Private enterprise, not big government can continue getting our country back on the right track.”

Hendricks has a different notion about getting back on track. Citing what she calls “lies” by Republican leaders such as Emmer calling the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack “legitimate public discourse,” she said, “I believe the number one issue in 2022 is defending our Democracy. We need people to stand up, volunteer, register to vote, and get involved at all levels to defend our Democracy. Together, we will protect it against all who wish to do it harm.”

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The two will get to present their messages to Minnesota in a debate set for late October, the Hendricks campaign said.

MPR News also reached out to both candidates to ask their stances on issues important to Minnesotans. Emmer did not respond as of Oct. 3.

Abortion

Emmer: “Abortions should always be illegal,” he has said, according to ontheissues.org. Emmer is also co-sponsor of a House bill, titled “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.” The proposed bill would made it a crime for performing or attempting to perform an abortion, if the fetus is 15 weeks or older. The violator could face up to five years in prison and/or a fine. There are exceptions in the legislation such as if the mother’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.

Hendricks: “I strongly support a women’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, privately with her own doctor. Congress should move to codify Roe v. Wade into law,” she told MPR News.

Economy and tax Policy

Emmer: “Regulations, reckless government spending, and a complex tax system stymie economic growth and raise concerns regarding the future prosperity of America. If we are to remain an economic superpower, it is critical that we reduce regulations, reduce spending, and reduce the tax burdens on American families and businesses,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “I support budget neutral spending exemplified by the Inflation Reduction Act. Further, I will work with labor unions, environmental organizations, business leaders, community leaders, and our citizens to solve today’s economic challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a clean, thriving, and equitable economy,” she told MPR News.

Education

Emmer: “As a father of seven, I understand that America’s education system should be as diverse and individual-oriented as the children it serves. Ensuring our students receive the highest quality education is fundamental to the strength and growth of our communities. Schools at every level should prepare students for success; our future depends on it,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “I fully support the goals of Education Minnesota. It is important to a growing and thriving democracy that all citizens have access to a quality education, which will provide them with the social and professional skills they need for success. I believe that, with the right support, all students are capable of success regardless of their backgrounds. I will support college and trade school tuition assistance for deserving students. I will back policies that allow our children to work and study hard. I will support college and trade school funding for those that serve honorably in our armed forces, and encourage the forgiveness of student loans for members of the military community. I will also support the extension of such student loan forgiveness to those that advance educational opportunity by choosing to teach in our least privileged schools. We have a responsibility as a nation to encourage the pursuit of futures in fields such as military service and education that best support the growth and security of America,” she told MPR News.

Environment and climate change

Emmer: “There is a delicate balance between maintaining our state’s abundant resources and encouraging economic output and growth. But all-too-often heavy-handed policies that come out from Washington bureaucrats harm industries such as agriculture and mining, which are vital to our success as a state … As a member of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I also support the investment and development of the renewable energy sector to provide a secure and budget-friendly mix of energy sources.

‘We need to cut back on regulations that stifle private industry and ensure all government programs—new or existing—help, instead of hinder, every Minnesotan’s ability to responsibly utilize the natural resources our state provides,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “Climate change is real and an existential threat to all of us. The Inflation Reduction Act is a good start at providing funds for solar, wind and biofuel energy expansion. Putting a price on each metric ton of CO2 emitted for industry would stimulate self-regulation and motivate industry to emit less to pay less,” she told MPR News.

Farming and rural Minnesota

Emmer: “Farming is a uniquely high-risk venture, and Congress has the responsibility to give farmers the tools they need to manage that risk. As a former member of the House Agriculture Committee, I believe the prosperity of our farming sector is critical and will work to ensure that our farmers have the resources they need for the effective and safe production of America’s food supply,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “The economy of central Minnesota depends on tourism, agriculture, and technology. However, we need to diversify even more to provide a solid foundation for economic stability that encourages our best and brightest to stay working right here, building a stronger central Minnesota. I will lead the effort to promote central Minnesota and will strongly advocate for legislation that keeps our lakes clean, our air fresh, and our water clean. I will support our farmers and promote regional tourism opportunities. Additionally, I will support legislation that encourages trade schools, creates jobs throughout the district, and supports and protects our labor unions and their members,” she told MPR News.

Guns

Emmer: “The Second Amendment is an essential civil right and a significant part of our heritage in Minnesota. Our founders understood that an individual’s right to keep and bear arms is a crucial individual liberty, and protection against a tyrannical government. Citizens must remain vigilant in order to protect their rights, and the ability to lawfully exercise these rights should remain free from government intrusion,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “I strongly support our hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen, as well as individuals who own guns legally. I support the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but recognize the need to protect our communities from violent criminals and those challenged by their mental health. I will support common-sense gun safety legislation that protects the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms; and creates and requires efficient universal background checks, closes the gun show loophole for purchasing firearms, provide for safe storage of firearms, and eliminates citizens’ ability to create ghost guns,” she told MPR News.

Health care

Emmer: “Minnesota is home to more than 1,000 health care companies and 605 medical device companies, which in turn employs more than half a million Minnesotans. It is the government’s responsibility to be a resource, not a roadblock, on the road to advancement in this field. To that end, I firmly believe that if we are to guarantee access to the highest quality and most affordable care available, we must empower States to innovate and treat the many unique populations within their borders instead of mandating a “one-size-fits-all” health care system,” he said on his website.

Hendricks: “I am a mom and nurse, and naturally health care is very important to me. I strongly support implementing changes that will help the U.S. control health care costs, while still achieving high-quality care and universal basic coverage for everyone … Every American deserves access to quality health care. Health care also needs to be affordable for all families. Yearly increases of insurance premiums are putting quality care with low deductibles and low out-of-pocket expenses out of reach for many families in Minnesota. Prescription drug prices have skyrocketed. I will work hard to find ways to lower these costs and make medications affordable for everyone who needs them,” she told MPR News.

Immigration

Emmer: The On the Issues website noted that Emmer has supported the deportation of undocumented immigrants and voted in favor of a bill that would ban DACA recipients from serving in the military, but he has also co-sponsored the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” which proposed increasing both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

Hendricks: “Minnesota’s economy relies on many immigrant workers for our farms, tourist infrastructure, and restaurants. I will introduce and support legislation that keeps our borders secure, but creates a path for those who seek the American way of life and want to work to support our central Minnesota employers. While they may be undocumented immigrants, referring to human beings as ‘illegal’ sets the tone for negative dialogue. We are a country of immigrants and our diversity is our strength. However, as a nation, we do not have unlimited resources. I will introduce legislation that creates a path to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), creates fair and reasonable immigration laws that do not overburden the taxpayers, secures our borders, but requires humane and decent treatment of all human beings, and regulates and controls immigration for those who seek the American way of life,” she told MPR News.

The 2020 Election

Emmer: The congressman signed on to an amicus brief in 2020, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election by invalidating votes that buoyed Joe Biden to the presidency. He also was one of over 100 House Republicans to sign on to a 2020 lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which alleged that election officials in four battleground states ignored federal and state election laws, thus causing voting irregularities and changing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Hendricks: “I will defend our democracy. One of our most cherished and most protected rights as Americans is our right to vote for our elected representatives. It is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Our right to vote in a free and reliable election must be protected from our enemies, both foreign and domestic. I believe that every eligible American voter should be allowed to vote at no charge, conveniently, without long delays; without discrimination, regardless of socioeconomic status, in a safe and secure atmosphere, and if necessary, by a secure and reliable mail-in ballot … I will take the necessary steps to protect your right to vote and protect the integrity of our elections,” she told MPR News.

Map of Minnesota US house district 6
Minnesota US House District 6
Elisabeth Gawthrop | APM Research Lab

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