The Issues

The Issues Matter

As a fifth generation Minnesotan, I have spent more than a decade working to defend and serve the people of this state and this country as a soldier, as a teacher, and as a national security professional at the Pentagon.

Now, I am eager to serve again, this time as a Democrat representing Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, where I will apply all that I’ve learned to the pressing issues we’re facing in southern Minnesota, in Washington, and around the world.

As a soldier in war, I learned the burden of being directly responsible for the lives of others. As a middle school teacher, I learned what it means to empower children through education. As an acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, I learned the awesome responsibility of making policy for millions of our nation’s service members. Each experience was humbling as well as enlightening, and each showed me how significantly federal policy impacts the lives of our citizens. I will carry these experiences with me to Congress.

I will fight to end the culture of corruption in Washington where politicians put corporate special interests ahead of the people of southern Minnesota. Washington is broken because corporate special interests like multinational oil conglomerates and East Coast pharmaceutical companies have not only purchased a seat at the table, they have completely taken it over, leaving southern Minnesotans to fend for themselves. One campaign contribution after another, their outsized voice has crowded out the needs of southern Minnesotans. That is unacceptable, and I will fight to end this corruption in Washington.

Refusing all corporate PAC money

Jim Hagedorn continues to accept money from corporate PACs, including East Coast pharmaceutical companies and out-of-state oil companies. By contrast, I have taken a simple pledge, I will take $0 from corporate PACs — period. No exceptions. This campaign is powered by the people and communities of southern Minnesota, because that’s who I will represent in Congress. By refusing all corporate PAC money, I won’t owe any favors to corporations or dark-moneyed interest. I will only answer to the people of Minnesota’s First District.

Preventing politicians from becoming lobbyists

The revolving door between politics and lobbying hurts our country. Too many Members of Congress like Jim Hagedorn have already or will use titles such as ‘Government Relations’ to shamelessly avoid having to register as lobbyists. That is wrong and that is why I pledge never to be a lobbyist in any shape or form. I will work to strengthen disclosure requirements and extend the definition of federal lobbyists to prevent former Members of Congress from trading their access for cash.

Stopping Members of Congress from trading individual stocks

Representing the people should be a public service and not a way to become wealthy. Members of Congress should not be able to use the insider knowledge they have to trade stocks on any individual company while in Congress. I will fight for rules that require Members of Congress to put their stock into blind trusts. That way, we can ensure they actually represent their constituents and not their own bank accounts.

Enacting real campaign finance reform

Foreign companies and a handful of secret billionaires should not be able to drown out the voices of Minnesotans in our elections. I will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision that has led to foreign donors and a handful of billionaires dominating our politics. Until then, I will work to strengthen the DISCLOSE Act to require Super PACs to disclose all of their donors.

Ending gerrymandering

Simply put, we must stop the practice of politicians manipulating districts and picking their voters. I will fight to ensure that each state has a non-partisan commission to draw fair districts that ensure that voters get to select their representatives in fair elections where the outcome is not already predetermined.

I will fight for health care and prescription drug coverage that is affordable and accessible for every southern Minnesotan. That also means ensuring that insurance companies are never again able to take away coverage from people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer.

In order to do this, we must take on out-of-state pharmaceutical conglomerates and mega-insurance companies that hold outsized influence in Washington — influence that they use to keep their prescription drug prices and health care costs high in order to enjoy record profits.

The drug and insurance companies already have enough representation in Washington with politicians like Jim Hagedorn who gladly take their talking points and their campaign contributions. By contrast, I reject all money from prescription drug companies and health insurers because my service will be to the people of southern Minnesota.

Making health care affordable

In too many communities across southern Minnesota, insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles are too high. We need to ensure that no family risks bankruptcy from getting the medical treatment they need. In order to do this, we must ensure there is greater choice for patients and prevent insurance companies from having localized monopolies.
As your Congressman, I will push to ensure strong, trusted coverage for many more Minnesotans. For people who like their current private coverage — they must always be able to keep it. For those who don’t, I will work to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age to 55 and creating a public option so people can buy in to a program like Medicare. I will also join the bipartisan efforts to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and strengthen the individual market, which our farmers, entrepreneurs, and others rely on, making it more stable and more affordable.

Ensuring health care is accessible

We need to make sure that the realities of rural communities are part of health reform discussions and that they have a seat at the table, both to address the challenges they face and to learn from their successes. Our rural communities face unique challenges, but they also have unique strengths when it comes to providing health care. In traveling across our district, I’ve met with countless Minnesotans living in rural areas who don’t have access to local providers or have to drive hours for the care they need.
In Congress, I will work to address these growing health care workforce shortages and challenges by promoting early exposure to health careers and supporting programs that recruit and train providers in rural areas. I’ve also heard incredible stories of communities working to address obesity, mental health, or isolation among seniors. I will also push to expand the great innovation happening in our rural communities that provides health care (not sick care) and that is really making a difference in the overall health of individuals and communities.
Strengthening protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

We cannot go backwards to a time where insurance companies discriminated against those with pre-existing conditions and denied them coverage they needed. That is why I will fight to protect the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions, so their coverage can never be taken away, so that they will always get the care they need without fear of being discriminated against or breaking the bank.

Making prescription drugs affordable

We need to bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription medications for families across our state. Minnesotans are spending too much of their paychecks on the rising cost of their prescriptions, forcing many families to make the difficult choice between paying for needed medications or putting food on the table. Our neighbors, loved ones, and others, shouldn’t have to make this choice.

I won’t take a single dime or any talking points from pharmaceutical companies. Because I am not beholden to these or any corporate special interests, I will be able to advocate for legislation that will actually lower prescription drug prices. That is why in Congress, I will fight for price transparency, empower Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug companies, enable safe generic drugs to compete on a level-playing field‬, and strengthen Medicare Part D benefits for our seniors‬.
Read more about my prescription drug plan here:

View my full plan to lower prescription drug costs

I will fight to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare benefits for our seniors in southern Minnesota. People have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits by paying into it their entire careers. Making cuts to these critical programs would be unfair, but it would also be disastrous for the economic stability and health of our seniors. Too many politicians in Washington, like Jim Hagedorn, would rather give out tax breaks to billionaires and foreign companies than stand-up for our seniors. I won’t sell out our seniors to make billionaires richer.

Defending Social Security

Social Security benefits are a critical source of income for southern Minnesotans to retire with dignity. I would fight to keep the retirement age as-is and ensure that cost-of-living-adjustments are pegged to inflation, including inflation for out-of-pocket medical costs. Finally, I would oppose any and all efforts, by either Democrats or Republicans, that would reduce benefits for our seniors.

Strengthening Medicare

Medicare provides critical access for our seniors but it needs to be more comprehensive. For example, dental, vision, and hearing must be included as a part of Medicare. Furthermore, Medicare Part D benefits need to be strengthened so seniors don’t have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket costs to get the medications they need. We can do this by fully closing the coverage gap and allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies. This way, drug companies can no longer name their own price and overcharge our seniors for the medications they need.

From the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and the valleys of the Driftless Area in the east, to the wide open plains in the west, Minnesota’s First Congressional District is a rich landscape that has created and supported a prosperous tradition of family farming. The well-being of our farms and land is directly connected to the prosperity of every town and city in southern Minnesota. That is why our representatives in Congress must stand up for our farmers in southern Minnesota, rather than tow the line of interest groups or political parties.

Ending Washington’s disastrous trade policy

Our farmers worked for generations and put their own money on the line to open up new markets around the world. Yet today, farmers in southern Minnesota are losing access to those international markets and paying the price for Washington’s reckless trade policies. We must hold bad actors like China accountable. That said, we can and should do that in a smart way that does not needlessly slash farm incomes, jeopardizing the economy in regions like southern Minnesota. Unlike Jim Hagedorn, who refuses to stand up for farmers, I will always oppose tariffs that unfairly hurt our farmers. Furthermore, I will support trade deals that open markets for our farmers, ensure our workers are on a level-playing field, and protect the environment like the USMCA. Regardless of whether the President is a Republican or Democrat, I will put the farm families in southern Minnesota first.

Prevent further undermining of the market for corn ethanol

When the EPA undermines the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by handing out exemptions that allow massive oil companies to avoid blending corn ethanol, it has an immediate impact on the economy of southern Minnesota. And it is another example of Washington siding with foreign oil companies rather than communities and families here in our district. While politicians like Jim Hagedorn stay silent on this issue because they take money from out-of-state oil interests, I refuse to take any money from oil companies. Instead, I will work to fully restore the RFS, advocate for a federal biodiesel tax incentive, support trade deals to ensure other countries don’t cheat on their definitions of biofuels, and fully fund the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program in the Farm Bill.

Fighting for our farmers

The farm economy is the foundation of southern Minnesota. When you travel from county to county, you see a wide range of agricultural production and the spirit of community and hard work is embodied in our way of life. However, there is no doubt that the First District is feeling the pressure of an ever-changing economy, an aging workforce, and increased consolidation. The strength of our family farms is directly tied to the health of our small towns and cities.

That is why in Congress, I won’t accept the status quo that forces out our family farmers. I will fight against anyone, from either party, who seeks to perpetuate the notion that farms need to ‘get big or get out’. I will promote policies that encourage diversity in the crops we grow, the markets we sell to, and in the people who farm.

Promoting resilience in agriculture

I believe the farmers in southern Minnesota are leaders in protecting and improving the land and water they work with and rely on every day. As your representative, I will listen to and work with farmers who are constantly innovating and becoming better stewards. As part of this, I’ll support practices like cover cropping, diversifying crop rotations, and precision agriculture. In doing so, we will protect our prized landscapes all across southern Minnesota and ensure the quality of our land and water for generations to come. Our farmers must also be resilient to the impacts of climate change and become a key part of the fight against it.

Helping the next generation of farmers

I understand that farming is the economic backbone of southern Minnesota, which is why I am committed to making sure that the next generation of farmers can get on the land. To do this, we need to first make sure farmers can get a fair price for their products, allowing them to build a life and support their family with agriculture. From there, we can inspire young people to pursue careers in agriculture by removing barriers of entry and introducing our children to the opportunities in farming through the many agricultural leadership programs in southern Minnesota. Furthermore, I will be a champion for beginning farmers by supporting the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. There are people of all backgrounds who want to farm, and it is critical that our federal programs help them get on the land.

Rebuilding our infrastructure

Transporting our goods and services to market in a global economy requires an efficient and cost effective transportation system. Inefficiency leads to higher prices for producers. Farmers and agriculture producers rely on roads, bridges, reliable freight rails, and access to barges to ensure that we are able to move commodities to reach major global markets. Investments in our transportation infrastructure, including a WRTA bill that upgrades our locks and dams, are critical to the future of the industry. I will work with anyone at any level of government, whether local, state, or federal, to improve our roads, bridges, and waterways. Furthermore, I will fight to ensure critical projects in southern Minnesota, like the expansion of Highway 14, get prioritized by the federal Department of Transportation.

I’ve spent much of my career defending our nation – first, in an Army uniform during two Iraq deployments, and then for three and a half years in the Pentagon as an acting Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Our soldiers, diplomats, and intelligence agencies work tirelessly and courageously every single day to defend our country.

But while our soldiers, veterans, diplomats, and intelligence agencies have sacrificed and given so much, our Congress has continuously failed them. Instead of ensuring that our veterans have high-quality health care, jobs, and educational opportunities upon leaving the service, Congress has prioritized tax cuts for billionaires. And instead of being a co-equal branch of government, Congress has abdicated its responsibilities and allowed for us to be at war for over 18 years.
Our soldiers, veterans, diplomats, and intelligence agencies deserve a Congress that will fight for them, and in Congress, I will work with Republicans and Democrats alike to make this happen.

Defending checks and balances

As a co-equal branch of government, Congress must not cede the responsibility of ultimately putting our military in harm’s way to the President alone. Congress must shape our national security strategy and determine how we use our military, an all-volunteer force, throughout the world. Congress must also check the executive branch from entering into unnecessary conflicts. I will lead the effort to hold the Executive Branch accountable to ensure that we only place our service members into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary.

Ensuring Military Spending and Readiness

When it comes to military spending, I believe that the surest way to maintain a strong and sustainable military force without unending costs is to use it more wisely. The cost of the Global War on Terror, beyond the human toll of those who have given their lives in service, will exceed $6 trillion dollars. We can have a strong military when we choose to use it more judiciously, instead of measuring it by its size or its cost. Congress has an enormous role in checking these costs, as well as the costs of a Defense Department that is still not auditable. I will lead an effort to fund a military that is strong and ready to confront our most dangerous threats, but also a military whose costs do not continually escalate and strain domestic spending. There are more than 48,000 military veterans in Minnesota’s 1st District, many of whom personally and intimately know the consequences of war. They also know that at the end of the day, each service member is measured by ability and service. I will fight for legislation that allows and encourages anyone who can meet the military’s standards to serve, including immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. Our military is strongest when it reflects our broader society, and in the age of an 18-year war, we must have the widest net possible to recruit patriotic young people into service.

Protecting Our Homeland and Working with our Allies

No matter who the President is in 2021, I will work with them to prioritize our safety at home, defend our allies abroad, and be constantly looking for new partners with whom we can tackle the greatest hurdles in front of us. The challenges that we face today, both domestic and abroad, are constantly evolving and require a thoughtful and rounded approach to policy-making. Our nation will be most secure when we holistically approach the dangerous threats that exist in the world; this means using diplomacy and international cooperation abroad, while maintaining a careful balance to address our challenges at home.

Providing the highest-quality health care for our soldiers and veterans

We need to ensure that our veterans and servicemembers have access to the highest-quality health care. That starts with taking better care of the needs of our active duty service members on the front end and ensuring that we provide VA health care benefits to veterans on the back end.

To do this, I will fight to ensure that both TriCare and the VA are fully funded and fully staffed so that our servicemembers and veterans receive the best care. Furthermore, I will work to ensure that veterans have access to their VA health care benefits so that they do not face long wait times when receiving care. Finally, I will continue to build upon the programs that provide critical mental health and chemical dependency services for our veterans, active duty servicemembers, and military families.

Creating opportunities for our veterans

At the Pentagon, I helped create programs to ensure our soldiers and veterans received the educational and job training opportunities they needed to succeed after their service. In Congress, I will do the same to ensure that we honor soldiers’ and veterans’ commitment to public service by protecting the GI Bill and expanding other public service loan forgiveness programs. Furthermore, I will work with labor unions, trade schools, and technical colleges, to ensure that our veterans have access to high-paying jobs in the building and construction trades. Finally, I will fight to ensure that our veterans do not face discrimination when utilizing their VA home loans and other benefits.

I will stand up for all working families in southern Minnesota to ensure that they have more money in their pockets. It is critical for the prosperity of southern Minnesota, that we restore the dignity of work and fight to ensure that every family has access to strong middle-class jobs that pay well, provide good benefits, and ensure stability. There is no single silver bullet, and it will take all of us, including labor unions, businesses, and institutions of higher learning, to ensure that our economy in southern Minnesota is strong, not just for a few, but for every single person.

Creating good middle-class jobs

We must create jobs that pay well, provide good benefits, and are stable. No matter who the President is in January of 2021, I will work with that person, along with labor unions, businesses and colleges in southern Minnesota, to find opportunities to make smart investments that will create jobs in our communities. In Congress, I will push for greater investments in infrastructure to rebuild roads, bridges and waterways, and create more wind turbines and solar farms to create new jobs for southern Minnesotans. I will work with small businesses and community leaders to identify unnecessary regulations that burden small business owners and potential small business owners. Finally, I will work with students and universities to promote entrepreneurship and create incentives to keep young people living in southern Minnesota.

Protecting the rights of workers

Labor unions have fought to make workplaces equitable and are a critical part of ensuring we have an economy that works for everyone. That is why, in Congress, I will fight against any and every “right-to-work” law; I would fight to establish a consistent preference in federal government contracting for unionized employers that provide workers with fair pay and benefits; and I would fight to protect the sanctity of union elections. Furthermore, I would fight for paid sick leave and parental leave benefits for our workers and I would fight to ensure that all workers have safe and fair workplaces where no one is subject to harassment or discrimination. Finally, I would be a strong champion of equal pay for equal work for women and advocate for protections from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Passing tax reform that prioritizes families rather than mega corporations

The 2017 tax bill prioritized multinational corporations and billionaires rather than working families in southern Minnesota. I would fight for tax reform that makes tax season simpler and less time consuming for working families. Furthermore, instead of sending more money into the pockets of billionaires and multinational corporations, I believe we must expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and provide much needed tax relief to working families and small businesses.

Making health care, childcare, and education affordable and accessible

For too many working families, the costs of health care, childcare, and education have far outpaced wage growth. That is why I have plans on how to make health care, childcare, and education more affordable and accessible to ensure that working families keep more of their paycheck on a monthly basis.

As a former public school teacher, the spouse of a public school educator, and a father to three children we are raising here in southern Minnesota, I will fight to defend public education and ensure every family has a high-quality and fully funded education from pre-K to post-secondary.

I know that there is no more important job than preparing our youth for the future. We need to equip our children with the skills to succeed in a 21st century economy and treat others with kindness and respect. That is why in Congress, I will fight to maintain and strengthen our strong public education system that helps both our economy and our communities in southern Minnesota thrive.

Making early childhood education accessible and affordable

I support Early Childhood Education as a pathway that gives our children every advantage to develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I will work to ensure that there are multiple affordable options for preschool for families within their home communities. Furthermore, I will pursue policies in Congress to ensure that our early childhood educators, especially our child care providers, can still provide critical services at a low cost. I will also work to control the costs of childcare for our working parents, who shouldn’t have to break their bank before their children even start school.

Strengthening our K-12 Education

Preparing skilled workers and lifelong learners: Our K-12 education system must prepare our children to be adaptive learners throughout their lives in a rapidly-evolving economy and society. Our children must have access to STEM, to the arts, to coding, and to the power that internet connectivity and technology brings to the classroom.

Furthermore, we must help our children develop a love of learning. That is why our kids should have every learning opportunity to learn to think on their feet and problem solve, to work in teams and as part of a larger group, to use modern technology, and give them the opportunity to try working with their hands.

Building partnerships: As Congressman, I will encourage partnerships between local labor, businesses, technical schooling, and apprenticeships, as well as 2 and 4-year degree programs so that each child can know of, from an early age, the many opportunities that already exist right here in our communities. This isn’t just true in manufacturing, but also in healthcare, IT, agriculture, logistics and transportation, aviation, and more. We can be doing a lot more in our education system to help students and their families identify multi-directional educational pathways that can lead to any number of high-wage, high-growth job opportunities available in southern Minnesota.

There are great models for this youth engagement in our community today, and we know them very well – we know them as FFA and 4-H. Let’s use FFA and 4-H as models for what engaging with our youth can look like to strengthen both our local communities and the broader economy.

Supporting teachers: Great teachers are the lifeblood of our educational system. As the husband of a public school teacher, I know this well. It’s crucial that we recruit, develop, and retain a strong and diverse teacher workforce. I believe that every classroom must be led and empowered by teachers who are set up for success and compensated for the public service they provide. I will work on creative solutions to recruiting teachers in shortage areas such as STEM, special education, and in our rural communities. I will also support efforts in Congress to make sure teachers can sharpen their skills through ongoing professional development and get the support they need to prevent burnout. Lastly, I will ensure that federal research is directed towards the frontline challenges that teachers experience across southern Minnesota and the country.

Higher Education and Workforce Development

It is unacceptable that so many of our young people are saddled with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt at high interest rates. When our young people pursue a post-secondary education, whether a four-year degree, a two-year degree, or apprenticeship, it must fulfill the promise of career enhancement without the crippling debt that hurts so many of our students and our entire community.

In Congress, I will support legislation that caps student loan rates and expands the job pathways to loan forgiveness. Furthermore, I will work with institutions of higher education to demand transparency when their prices rise. Finally, I will work with labor unions, trade schools, and technical colleges to ensure that our young people have access to high-paying jobs in the trades or technical jobs that don’t require attending a four-year university.

As the father of three children and a national security professional, I believe it is imperative that we combat climate change to leave a safer and more prosperous Earth for all of our children.

By refusing to address climate change, we will exacerbate extreme weather events, food shortages, armed conflicts, and migration patterns, both around the world and right here in southern Minnesota. The science is clear that if we do not take immediate and dramatic steps to curb this impact, our farmers, our children, and our communities will suffer tremendously. I believe that we need to move towards clean and renewable energy and the rest of the country should take southern Minnesota’s lead with more wind farms, solar panels, and biofuels to ensure that we can address the challenges of climate change together.
Addressing climate change is the right thing to do so we leave a cleaner world for our children and our grandchildren, but it will also help our economy here in southern Minnesota and keep our country safer in a time of global instability. In fact, NASA, the Department of Defense and 97% of scientists agree that climate change is a real threat and worsens extreme weather, over the past 40 years, has been calling climate change one of the greatest threats to our country’s national security. It is unconscionable that Jim Hagedorn proudly denies the existence of climate change and refuses to act on it.

Leading with our farmers

I have seen first-hand the devastation caused by climate change, particularly for our farmers and producers in southern Minnesota. Our farmers and producers are on the frontlines of climate change and they are experiencing the worst effects of it. In Congress, I will advocate for programs like the Rural Green Partnership that expand and improve conservation programs already used and respected by farmers, invest in rural infrastructure like broadband to enable better precision agriculture, and increase funding for applied research on how to provide our farmers with even better tools and technology. By doing this we ensure our farmers and the broader agricultural community are at the front of any solution to address climate change.

Addressing national security

In Congress I want to be a leader on environmental issues, leveraging my background in national security. For decades, the Department of Defense has published report after report detailing the consequences to national security if we do not address climate change. We have seen the effects of international crises being exacerbated by a changing climate. I believe that I can lead a group of Republicans and Democrats to address environmental issues from a national security lens to complement the already robust moral and economic case.

Investing in the future

With the input of our farmers and producers in mind, I will advocate for increasing investment in American solar, wind, and biofuels, curtailing our reliance on oil from Saudi Arabia and other foreign nations. Furthermore, I will fight to increase funding for research and development and create partnerships between the public and private sector so that the next generation of technologies can be developed to most effectively combat climate change. Finally, I will bolster workforce development to ensure that the green energy sector creates good-paying union jobs in southern Minnesota.

What Issues Matter Most To You?

As a fifth generation Minnesotan, I have spent more than a decade working to defend and serve the people of this state and this country as a soldier, as a teacher, and as a national security professional at the Pentagon.

Now, I am eager to serve again, this time as a Democrat representing Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, where I will apply all that I’ve learned to the pressing issues we’re facing in southern Minnesota, in Washington, and around the world.


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As a fifth generation Minnesotan, I have spent more than a decade working to defend and serve the people of this state .

Contribute to Dan's Campaign

As a fifth generation Minnesotan, I have spent more than a decade working to defend and serve the people of this state .