Vice President Mike Pence delivered a rousing speech to the Republicans who had gathered to hear him speak in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
Pence talked of tax cuts and a strong economy － a tough sell after the Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 1,600 points on 5 February, its worst point decline during a trading day in history. And late last month, amid deepening fears over a trade war with China, the market suffered its worst week in over two years, with the Dow closing 5.7 percent lower than it had started on Monday.
But more importantly, Pence linked Erik Paulsen, who represents Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, to President Donald Trump.
“Congressman Paulsen has been fighting every day shoulder to shoulder with President Trump,” Pence said.
Pence is right. According to FiveThirtyEight, Paulsen votes in line with the president’s policies about 97 percent of the time.
But Paulsen would likely prefer not to be associated with Trump. While the congressman easily won reelection in 2016, his district preferred Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by a margin of about nine points. And there are growing signs that the Third Congressional District is uncomfortable with Trump, whose approval ratings remain historically low. If Paulsen chooses to continue linking himself with Trump － or if well-meaning Republicans like Pence do it for him － he could face serious consequences in November’s midterm election.
Chief among Paulsen critics’ complaints is the congressman’s long refusal to hold town hall events. Paulsen instead chooses utilize vlogs or tele-town halls where constituents can call in with their questions and listen to answers. And while Paulsen has carefully crafted an image of himself as a moderate, his voting record indicates that like Trump, he’s anything but.
Writing in City Pages last week, Pete Kotz brought the issue into relief: “For women, Paulsen voted to sabotage Obamacare and allow insurers to once again bar coverage for pre-existing conditions. For moderates, his vote for the GOP tax cuts will add trillions in debt. And when it comes to the rising tide for gun control, the congressman might as well be your Uncle Bubba from South Carolina, who thinks the mailman is a covert operative of the Deep State.”
Coupled with the fact that a February poll found that most Democrats (52 percent) are either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in the mid-terms while only 40 percent of Republicans felt the same, Paulsen will face a tough reelection fight in the fall.