Michelle Fischbach, a Republican congressional candidate running for Minnesota’s Seventh District seat, spent time during a swing through northwest Minnesota to discuss, among other things, her opposition to proposals to defund police departments.
Fischbach on Friday evening addressed a group of about 20 supporters at a shelter in O’Leary Park in East Grand Forks. She also planned at least four other stops over the weekend.
The idea to reduce funding to police has been discussed following late-May rioting in Minneapolis brought about by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
“We need our law enforcement. They are our first defense,” Fischbach said to those attending her East Grand Forks visit. “They're the ones that you call when something goes wrong. You pick up that 911, those local guys are the ones that come. And so I cannot say enough about making sure that we do, we back the blue.”
Fischbach, fresh off a victory in the Minnesota Republican primary in early August, is running against incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who has held the seat for 30 years. Fischbach told the Herald she likes her chances this year, and that her goal is not only to flip that seat from blue to red, but to help do the same statewide.
“I think it looks really good,” she said. “People, I think, are really understanding the importance of this election, and that is, you're (either) going to pick Nancy Pelosi and Collin Peterson and move down that road of socialism, or you're going to pick President Trump and the folks who want to move the country forward.”
Fischbach has amassed quite the war chest to run against Peterson. Her campaign, at the end of July, reported raising more than $1 million. A July 30 press release stated that amount was the most ever raised in the district. Since then, she said she isn't sure how much she’s raised – maybe another $500,000 – though she won’t know the exact amount until the reporting period comes at the end of the month.
Along with those funds, Fischbach brings a long political history and several endorsements to the table – most notably President Trump, who endorsed her campaign in early March. She is the first woman to serve as president of the Minnesota Senate, where she served from 1996-2018, and she also served a stint as lieutenant governor.
Fischbach said she doesn't have specific legislation she would introduce if elected, and that she is still talking with district residents about their needs. She said she is in talks with farmers, discussing what federal programs are and are not working, and what they would like to see. Agricultural producers in the region faced a poor harvest last year and had crops inundated by rain this year.
Education also is one of her priorities, and she said she would work to strengthen two-year and higher education programs in the district.
“We're looking at those because that's a workforce issue too, and we need a strong workforce in rural Minnesota,” she said.
Fischbach’s northwest Minnesota tour took her from East Grand Forks on Friday, to Crookston, Thief River Falls and Roseau on Saturday. She is set to make a stop in Bemidji on Sunday.