Carleton development officer Patrick Ganey kicked off his campaign for the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) nomination for Minnesota’s second congressional district last Thursday with a town hall meeting in the Weitz Center.
Speaking to a room of eager students, the Northfield City councilman discussed why he would make a good congressman, emphasizing his abilities to listen and communicate, skills he has honed in part through his work at Carleton.
Ganey opened the event by posing the question, “What makes someone a congressman?”
Throughout the night, Ganey emphasized that a good congressman has the skills to think critically, to listen to people, and to communicate clearly. Ganey decided to run because he believes that the Republican incumbent, John Kline, does not possess these skills.
“I look at who’s there right now and I really dislike him. He doesn’t think about the issues, he’s very partisan, he’s an ideologue,” Ganey said. “Kline has been congressman for ten years, but what has he done besides vote with the Republican Party?”
Ganey promised that, if elected, he would provide “a different kind of voice.”
He admitted that many voters would criticize him as unqualified, as his only experience in government has been serving on the Northfield City Council.
Yet, he emphasized his work on the city council and as a Carleton development officer, both of which have required him to listen and interact with a variety of people as well as think critically about issues, is “fundamentally the same work” as that of a congressman.
“Am I the most experienced? I don’t know,” Ganey admitted to his audience. “But I know I can do this.”
Speaking directly to his student audience, Ganey discussed his mother’s career as a teacher and his belief in the importance of education. “The foundation of our country is and will be education,” Ganey said.
Ganey also spoke of the importance of entrepreneurialism, arguing that the U.S. needs to make it easier to start small businesses, as well as to provide affordable health care options to all Americans, especially to small business owners.
The DFL will endorse a candidate for the second district seat on April 28. The 110 delegates from across the district will meet to select Ganey or one of his two competitors, Mike Obermueller and Kathleen Gaylord, as the nominee. Until then, Ganey hopes to get students involved in his campaign, making calls to delegates and researching the issues important to the district.
One Carleton student has already committed a significant amount of his time to the campaign. Mike Sobaski ’15 is Ganey’s campaign organizer on campus. “I learned about Ganey’s campaign through the Carleton Democrats,” said Sobaski. “The first thing I noticed [about Ganey] is that he cared. He talked to me for two hours on a Sunday in the Weitz Center. It really struck me how well he listened and how engaged he was.”
Both Sobaski and Ganey emphasized the important role students play in elections. “Students should be involved,” Sobaski said. “Voting is really important, but it is not always enough.”
“Elected officials want to hear from people,” Ganey said. “I hope students can recognize the weight their opinions are given in the decision making process, because students are a powerful voice.”