Mike Obermueller arrived to a Willis classroom Sept. 27 that was covered in a dense smog of Dominos pizza and filled with a cacophony of students speaking on the phone with potential voters. Obermueller, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party candidate for the second congressional district, took his spot at the front of the room as people jostled for seats.
“I thought he seemed like a pretty straight shooter,” said Caley Shannon ’14. “He felt that he needed to paint himself as a good ole down home Minnesota guy.”
Obermueller began by speaking about growing up on a dairy farm, where milking 57 cows daily helped him develop a good work ethic. The routine kept him busy and also prepared him for the real world. “I shoveled a lot of manure and I can assure you that I’ll be doing a lot of that in Congress,” said Obermueller.
Drawing from her experience as a community organizer in Dallas, Shannon said, “I expected the family farm story; we have this campaign tactic called ‘Story of Self’ that you always open by asking a volunteer about themselves. It is humanizing.”
A former state representative, Obermueller has moved onto the national stage. The Democratic National Committee has heaped special attention on this target race, which has changed Obermueller’s campaign strategy. “I’m doing more staged events instead of door knocking like I used to, I just don’t have the time anymore,” he said.
Obermueller’s campaign faces the uphill challenge of attempting to dethrone Republican John Kline, a five-term incumbent who flew Marine One, the president’s personal helicopter, back in the day. He is a critic of Kline’s support of Paul Ryan’s budget and the inefficiencies of the proposed healthcare voucher system.
In addition, Obermueller said, “[John Kline] won’t send an educational bi-partisan bill out of the committee because Obama might sign it.” And tailoring his campaign to the current audience said, “He was a cheerleader for doubling student loan interest rates.”
Obermueller proceeded to give a speech on local and national issues. Prodded by students to discuss Syria, Obermueller said “we can’t have military action every time another country sneezes,” but added, “I personally think that [a regime change] will ultimately happen.”
Continuing with the Middle East, a student asked Obermueller’s thoughts on the anti-Islam video “Innocence of Muslims.” He hesitated for a second, then expressed his condolences for the lost lives due to the video, and proposed an idea of censorship on YouTube. Even though Jeff Rosen ’16, thought Obermueller “seems to be a good guy who values hard work,” Rosen disagreed with the notion of first amendment censorship. Additionally, Shannon said, “we as a society should be able to decide to ignore it, we don’t need to censor it.”
Locally, Obermueller is against the proposed Voter ID laws on the ballot this November. The law mandates state-supplied photo identification when registering, which would deny the use of student IDs as an acceptable form of identification. “I’m in favor of easy access to voting, “ said Obermueller, “This is a right people died for, and I am not in favor of taking that away.”