Minnesota Republican congressional candidate Aaron Miller's gripe with Washington is personal. Speaking at the district convention on Saturday, Miller, an Iraq War vet who won the nomination to challenge four-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, explained that he was running for office in part to ensure that his daughter won't have to learn about evolution at her local public school. Per the Mankato Free Press:
He also called for more religious freedoms. He repeated his story about his daughter returning home from school because evolution was being taught in her class. He said the teacher admitted to not believing in the scientific theory to his daughter but told her that the government forced him to teach the lesson.
"We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington D.C.," Miller said.
Miller has declined to provide any more information to verify his story.
This isn't the first time Miller has recounted this tale—it's a staple of his stump speech. The comments were first flagged by Minnesota blogger Sally Jo Sorensen, who points out that Minnesota's biology standards are set by Minnesota, not DC. Miller has the endorsement of the district's 2012 GOP nominee Allen Quist, a longtime conservative activist in the state who wrote an educational curriculum supplement postulating that "people and stegosaurs were living at the same time."
The first district, which President Obama carried by a point in 2012, is one of just a handful of red-leaning congressional districts represented by Democrats. But Walz, who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, remains popular in the district. It probably doesn't hurt that the local GOP keeps nominating candidates like Quist and Miller, either.
Update, 4/11:Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) announced he wouldn't seek re-election, making state Sen. Glenn Grothman the odds-on favorite favorite to win the seat in November.
Wisconsonites tired of relaxing on weekends and staying home on federal holidays are in luck: On Thursday, GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman announced his challenge to 18*-term moderate Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). In a conservative district that went to Mitt Romney by seven points in 2012, Grothman hopes to channel dissatisfaction with Republicans in Congress whom he believes haven't done enough to slow down the Obama administration's policy agenda. But he comes with some baggage of his own.
In January, Grothman introduced legislation to eliminate a state requirement that workers get at least one day off per week. "Right now in Wisconsin, you're not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week," he told the Huffington Post. Eliminating days off is a long-running campaign from Grothman. Three years earlier, he argued that public employees should have to work on Martin Luther King Day. "Let's be honest, giving government employees off has nothing to do with honoring Martin Luther King Day and it's just about giving state employees another day off," he told the Wisconsin State Journal. It would be one thing if people were using their day off to do something productive, but Grothman said he would be "shocked if you can find anybody doing service."
MLK Day and "Saturday" aren't the only holidays Grothman opposes. At a town hall in 2013, he took on Kwanzaa, which he said "almost no black people today care about" and was being propped up by "white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans."
When he's not advocating for people to spend more time working, Grothman has gotten in trouble for advocating that (some) people be paid less. "You could argue that money is more important for men," he told the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg, after pushing through a repeal of the state's equal pay bill. And he has pushed to pare back a program that provided free birth control, while floating a bill that would have labeled single parenthood, "a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect." Grothman justified the bill by contending that women choose to become single mothers and call their pregnancies "unplanned" only because it's what people want to hear. "I think people are trained to say that 'this is a surprise to me,' because there's still enough of a stigma that they're supposed to say this," he said in 2012.
Enjoy the weekend.
Correction: This post originally misstated the number of years Petri has been in Congress.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made another effort to jump back into the upper tier of 2016 Republican presidential wannabes on Wednesday, releasing a 26-page plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with...something else. Jindal's plan includes things like block grants for Medicaid, an elimination of the employer subsidy for insurance, and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines—basically the same things conservatives have been pushing for years. (Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's 2015 budget, unveiled one day earlier, also calls for block grants.) As I reported in the most recent issue of Mother Jones, it's only the most recent in a string of efforts by Jindal to elevate his sagging national profile to its previous heights.
But while he was pushing a hypothetical agenda for his hypothetical presidency, things weren't going so well in Louisiana:
Louisiana's House Education Committee voted down legislation that sought to scrap the Common Core education standards and replace them with a not-yet-developed set of academic benchmarks and assessments. The committee's vote was 12-7.
Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a green card—indicating support—for [State Rep. Brett] Geymann's legislation to the House Education Committee, after several weeks of being circumspect about the his views on Common Core. But no one from Jindal's staff testified on the bill and his spokesmen did not respond to media requests for information about why he backed Geymann's legislation.
Jindal originally supported the implementation of the Common Core standards, a set of defacto national math and English standards approved by 46 states in 2009. But the standards became a lightning rod for conservative activists, who considered it a government takeover of local schools (or worse). So when the backlash came to Louisiana last year, he changed his tune. Sort of. Jindal argued that Louisiana shouldn't take orders from Washington, and after a long period of indecision, quietly signaled his support for Geymann's bill, which would have put the state's tests on hold and form a 32-person committee for further study. It's not quite hitting control-z on the entire program, but it would certainly be a step away from the original plan. But that attempt at damage control is dead for now, and so instead of being able to tell voters about how he reined in Common Core, Jindal is stuck with it.
That might not be on the 2016 radar yet, but given how despised the Core is among grassroots voters in Iowa, Florida, and South Carolina, it's potentially a much bigger deal than a boilerplate white paper.
For the last 28 years, Carl Olson of Woodland Hills, California, has had a mission. "It's not a start-a-war thing, my gosh!," he says. Olson's raison d'être: He believes the United States has needlessly ceded eight Arctic islands to Russia, and he wants them back.
Olson thinks he's finally found a high-profile national ally in Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller. After speaking with Olson about the issue two years ago, Miller penned an op-ed on the subject for the conservative website WorldNetDaily, a frequent outlet for conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's birth.
"Part of Obama's apparent war against U.S. energy independence includes a foreign-aid program that directly threatens my state's sovereign territory," Miller declared. "Obama's State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin."
As Miller put it, "We won the Cold War and should start acting like it."
Illustration: Thomas Nast/Library of Congress; Scott Brown: Seamas Culligan/ZUMA
Scott Brown has a carpetbagging problem. On Monday, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts—who is now running for Senate in New Hampshire—defended his Granite State bona fides by taking a page from Lisa Simpson: "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever."
At this point, it's the rare Brown story that doesn't at least allude to the dreaded C-word. "Carpetbagger or Comeback Kid?" asked the Washington Examiner's Rebecca Berg. "Scott Brown's first hurdle in the Granite State will be addressing the carpetbagging charge," argued US News & World Report's David Catanese. Respondents to a March poll from Suffolk University, a plurality of whom disapproved of Brown, used words like "carpetbagger" and "interloper" to describe the ex-senator. His opponent in the Republican primary, former Sen. Bob Smith, has even offered to buy Brown a road map to the state—although Smith has run for Senate in Florida twice in the last decade.
If Brown wants to go back to Washington next winter, he should probably come up with a better response than "whatever." But his critics in Washington have it all wrong. For more than a century, carpetbaggers have gotten a bad rap for all the wrong reasons.