REGIONAL—Two Duluth area residents could face off to represent the sprawling Eighth Congressional District this fall. State Rep. Jen Schultz announced Monday that she’s seeking the DFL nomination to challenge fellow Duluthian Pete Stauber, who has held the seat in Washington since 2018.
Schultz made her announcement at public events in both Duluth and Virginia.
Schultz has represented a portion of Duluth at the state Legislature since 2014.
“I’m running because I believe in the Minnesota values of hard work, decency, and fairness,” said Schultz. “I believe everyone in our district deserves access to good jobs, affordable healthcare, the best education, and the ability to afford a good life for their family. We need someone in Congress to fight for all of us, not just some of us.”
Schultz noted the frustration voiced by many in the district who criticize the lack of leadership and tangible results from Stauber, and his votes that run counter to the region’s needs and undermine democracy. Stauber was among a large number of Republican members of Congress in 2020 who joined efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which Biden won. Stauber has closely tied his electoral fortunes to former President Donald Trump, who was intimately involved in efforts to convince former Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes from several states on Jan. 6 and replace them with electoral slates in favor of Trump. Pence’s refusal to engage in that unconstitutional action led to the Jan. 6 insurrection that caused death and destruction at the US Capitol. Stauber also voted against the creation of the bipartisan House committee that has spent the past year investigating the insurrection and those behind it.
Since then, Stauber has voted against major legislation, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is expected to bring substantial new investment and jobs to the district.
“We can do better,” said Schultz. “I’ve spent eight years in the Minnesota House with a track record of getting results with members from both parties. I am a better choice for Congress than Pete Stauber who votes against us. Stauber has repeatedly voted no to jobs, families, workers, women, and kids. He voted against the infrastructure investments we need. It’s unacceptable.”
As Schultz made her announcement, she was able to all major endorsements, including from former Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan, who retired in 2018, creating the opening for Stauber.
“People need a clear choice this November, and Jen brings the passion, experience, and commitment that Minnesota needs. Stauber votes against everything we care about. He says no to investments our region relies on. Schultz will work hard so we all do better.”
Beth McCuskey, President of the Duluth Central Labor Body, also lauded Schultz, calling her “a strong advocate for workers,” noting she has a 100 percent AFL-CIO voting record.-“Unlike Stauber, who votes against labor, Schultz has been fighting for workers her entire career. Schultz was instrumental in helping bring significant state and federal investments to northeast Minnesota, such as funding for the new Duluth medical district, University of Minnesota building projects, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and local projects for the city of Duluth. Equally important for a legislator, Schultz has a reputation of working across the aisle and with stakeholders to get things done.”
Stauber’s campaign staff took aim at Schultz after her announcement. Campaign staffer Johnny Eloranta told the Star Tribune that Schultz is a “card-carrying member of the Twin Cities liberals,” and accused her of leading efforts to cut $68 million from nursing homes, of supporting a 20-cent per gallon gas tax increase, opposing mining, and championing a government takeover of health care. “Pete looks forward to highlighting the stark differences between Schultz’s failed socialist policies and his strong record of fighting for our way of life.”
Schultz said she hopes to fight in Washington for many of the same issues that she’s worked on in St. Paul. That includes making quality education more affordable and accessible, reducing the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, investing in broadband and other essential infrastructure projects, increasing economic development and supporting jobs in the region. She said she’d also work to expand affordable housing and address food insecurity, and the impacts of a changing climate. Above all, Schultz said she’s interested in making sure Minnesota families are able to afford their lives and build a better future.
During her legislative career, Schultz has authored and advanced bills increasing access to affordable health coverage, closing corporate tax loopholes, protecting the elderly in long-term care facilities, increasing wages for personal care assistants, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, investing in home – and community-based services, expanding age-friendly communities, and funding historic health and human services bills with bipartisan support. She currently serves as Chair of the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. She is also a commissioner on the Great Lakes Commission where she has advocated for the protection of the Great Lakes, climate resilience, restoration of habitat, and sensible economic development.
When not in St. Paul, Schultz is a professor at UM-D. She holds a Ph.D. in economics, with a focus on health care policy. She’s married and lives in Duluth with her husband and two sons.