BAXTER, Minn. — An advocate for lowering insulin costs to affordable levels will run for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.

Quinn Nystrom, 33, will announce her candidacy later today in her hometown of Baxter in Crow Wing County.

“My last 23 years have been all about being dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes and helping improve the lives of people with diabetes,” Nystrom told Forum News Service on Wednesday, Oct. 2. “My work has hit a fever pitch with insulin affordability. It’s a crisis, and we’ve reached frustration levels with lawmakers who have not been able to get legislation passed.”

“I'll be damned if the solution for our country is sending Americans to Canada for affordable drugs”

As an advocate, Nystrom said she's used to working across the aisle. In March, she trained her attention on incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown, who she visited in Washington. D.C., with hopes of arranging a diabetes roundtable — something she had done with previous congressmen in the district. After an encouraging start and phone calls to arrange an event with Stauber’s people, the contacts stopped, Nystrom said.

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“We were begging him to help us,” Nystrom said.

Coincidentally, Stauber held a health care roundtable in Duluth on Thursday, sponsored by the insurance industry, but also on the topic of making prescription drug costs more affordable.

Nystrom is among the first candidates seeking Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement to announce her candidacy in the 8th District. An unknown candidate with a group called the Iron Range Grassroots Progressives was also expected to announce a candidacy today in Hibbing.

Nystrom says insulin costs have increased 1,200% in 20 years, with vials that cost $340 in the U.S. going for $30 in Canada. Nystrom has helped arrange caravans to Canada for the purpose of purchasing lower-priced insulin.

“I’ll be damned if the solution for our country is sending Americans to Canada for affordable drugs,” she said. “That is not a solution. The solution is to stand up to pharmacy companies and corporate interests and donors.”

Nystrom expects her platform to expand far beyond her advocacy:

  • On campaigning: “Health care is going to be one of the top issues,” she said. “But I want to hear from everyday people on the things that keep them up at night.”

  • On copper-nickel mining on the Iron Range: Nystrom said she’s open-minded and wants to tour sites with proponents and opponents alike. She grew up visiting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and said, “I’m going to have a lot of hard-hitting questions. I have a ton of concern doing copper-nickel in the Boundary Waters.”

The 8th District DFL convention to endorse a candidate is scheduled for May 2-3, at a place to be determined.

Any DFL candidate will have a new hurdle in appealing to labor, which has been leaking from the party and shown strong support for President Donald Trump and Rep. Stauber. Craig Olson is president of Duluth Building Trades and he spoke in September about the Republican appeal for labor.

“Pete has done a good job with trades and labor here,” Olson said. “I think you’ll have a tough time finding somebody who will beat Pete right now. … So many Dems have forgotten what the 'L' meant in DFL. Too many of them are opposing our jobs. We can’t all work for city or state or county government. We need safe pipelines, precious metals, clean coal, you name it.”

Now that her world will radiate out from her advocacy, Nystrom said she’s ready to start meeting with labor and other voters.

“I’m running for Congress,” she said. “I plan to meet with people in labor, and I want them to get to know me.”