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Minnesota voter guide: Where the U.S. Senate candidates stand on the issues

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Senate candidates 2018
(From left) Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Dennis Schuller, Incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Republican state Rep. Jim Newberger and Green Party candidate Paula Overby.
Photo of Newberger by Derek Montgomery for MPR News, all other photos courtesy of the candidates.

Updread: Oct. 15 | Posted: Oct. 12

Incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for re-election against state Rep. Jim Newberger, the Republican-endorsed candidate, Green Party candidate Paula Overby and Dennis Schuller of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.

Klobuchar, who is widely viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, easily won her first re-election campaign in 2012 — the same year Newberger, who has worked 30 years as a paramedic, first won his Minnesota House seat. Both Overby and Schuller have made a run for the Senate seat in previous years.

MPR News has researched the candidates' positions on several major issues based on their stated platforms and other public remarks:

On President Trump

Klobuchar: She has been critical of some of the president's choices — including his immigration ban, the decision to end DACA and and the reinstatement of restrictions on business and travel in Cuba. Klobuchar votes in line with Trump about 30 percent of the time according to vote tracking site FiveThirtyEight. During a recent debate Klobuchar noted that she's been the lead Democrat on 18 bills signed by President Trump. In that same debate she said an independent investigation into possible ties between Trump and Russia is vital.

Newberger: He supports the president, highlighting several of Trump's positions and plans on his campaign website and praising the president's diplomatic efforts on Twitter.

Overby: She says the president is going in the wrong direction. She disagrees with Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. "I think we need more diplomacy not less," she said in an email to MPR News.

Schuller: The president has only supported the top 1 percent of wage earners in the U.S. by ousting competent politicians and "chanting empty slogans," Schuller said in an email to MPR News. He says Trump's decisions and his combative rhetoric surrounding news media are making it harder for citizens to fight against oppression.

On gun control:

Klobuchar: She has supported a ban on assault weapons and bump stocks. She has also emphasized the need for stronger background checks that flag those who have a history of domestic abuse or have been investigated for terrorism.

Newberger: He strongly supports the Second Amendment and has spoken out against a series of gun law bills in the Legislature.

Overby: Overby says the current culture of violence and easy access to weapons are the issues we should focus on solving. She supports background checks and the demilitarization of police.

Schuller: Guns are not the problem, Schuller says, instead we should focus on improved surveillance and public services so people feel safe and have their needs met.

Health care

Klobuchar: She sees the Affordable Care Act as the beginning of productive health care reform, and supports keeping the protections it provides intact. She also supports Medicare and Medicaid. Her focus is on lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs as well as making sure rural communities have access to care.

Newberger: He does not support Affordable Care Act, saying it "nearly destroyed one of the best health care systems in the world." Newberger supports President's Trump plan to repeal Obamacare and says he would want to free up the health care market.

Overby: She says the Affordable Care Act did not deliver what was promised to the American people. She supports universal health care and removing profit-motives for insurance companies.

Schuller: Schuller says the Affordable Care Act should be refined over time, but not repealed. He also says the focus should be on teaching people how to live healthy lives and insurance should be expanded to include alternative and natural herbal forms of treatment.

Education

Klobuchar: She calls a good education a right and an investment in the economy. She promotes strong federal support for colleges as well as an increased focus on community and technical colleges and apprenticeships. She also supports more funding for K-12 schools, with that money being geared towards the expansion of STEM courses and the retention of teachers.

Newberger: He has voted in favor of the past three Minnesota House bills related to education funding.

Overby: She views education as a social investment, and says a variety of skills are necessary to promote a healthy government and community. She supports student debt forgiveness and opposes "predatory loan practices" seen at for-profit schools.

Schuller: He supports states making their own education guidelines and promotes teachers sharing their ideas with one another on a national level.

Immigration

Klobuchar: She endorses a path toward citizenship for those who have been living in the country illegally, but otherwise obeying the law. She also supports more money for border security and employer checks of immigrant status.

Newberger: He supports the president's plan for a wall on the border of Mexico and comprehensive immigration reform. He said the U.S. should continue to help refugees, but under the current laws people entering the country are poorly vetted and "do not have any intention of adopting American Law." He wants to give communities a say when accepting refugees.

Overby: She supports immigration reform that recognizes refugees and immigrants as assets to the country both culturally and economically.

Schuller: He supports sending those in the country illegally back to their country of origin. He also opposes laws giving citizenship to those born in the U.S. to parents who are not legal citizens. He says legalizing marijuana would make cartels a less prevalent problem.

Abortion

Klobuchar: She supports abortion rights and has co-sponsored legislation aimed at outlawing limitations to abortion services.

Newberger: He is against abortion rights and supports the belief that life begins at conception.

Overby: She supports abortion rights and says that there needs to be a bigger focus on child care services and sex education.

Schuller: He supports abortion rights and says more needs to be done to improve sex education and prevent rape and sexual abuse.

Jobs and the economy

Klobuchar: To improve the economy, she supports education geared toward invention and entrepreneurship, emphasizing exports and committing resources to federal and private sector research and development.

Newberger: He is focused on keeping jobs in Minnesota by protecting small businesses from "harmful regulations." He said he would work with the president to reduce the nation's debt.

Overby: She opposes the idea of trickle-down economics, and says those who benefit the most from our economy need to re-invest in workers. We also need to stop using taxpayer money to bail out bankrupt businesses and subsidize obsolete technology, she says.

Schuller: Federal spending on education can help boost the job market, Schuller says, adding a well educated workforce will create a more independent and productive society.

Climate change

Klobuchar: She supports innovation in clean energy technology in order to fight climate change, adding she does not want to burden farmers or small businesses in the process. She says the federal government must line up with Minnesota's pollution regulations because "pollution does not stop at state lines."

Newberger: He believes in climate change but does not believe it is man-made. "Climate change, the number one factor in climate change is the sun, and we cannot change the way the sun operates," he said at a recent debate.

Overby: She says climate change has created an important demand for clean energy, and by focusing on better policy and technology surrounding energy production will help us combat global warming.

Schuller: He supports clean air and water as an international priority. He supports trusting scientists and other experts to set goals for reducing pollution. Growing hemp can also help reduce pollution, he said.

Copper-nickel mining

Klobuchar: She says she is confident in the current environmental review process for mining projects. Earlier this year, she cosponsored  an amendment to force the completion of a land swap needed for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

Newberger: He opposes what he calls "oppressive regulations" on mining and supports the expansion of oil pipelines and opening the Iron Range to mineral mining.

Overby: She is opposed to Polymet's plan to mine in northeastern Minnesota, saying that the risks to the environment outweigh the short term economic gains. She supports expanding efforts in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture in the region.

Schuller: He opposes mining near the boundary waters, stating that the short economic boom would not be worth the possible pollution left behind. "I believe the long range for the boundary waters area is for the recreation it is known for," Schuller said in an email to MPR News, adding that if technology improved to ensure less pollution he might change his mind.

Taxes and government spending

Klobuchar: She supports tax reform that would simplify the tax code, fund infrastructure and give incentives for businesses to keep jobs in the U.S.

Newberger: He wants to simplify the tax code so everyone can understand and complete their taxes faster. He supports limiting the powers of the IRS.

Overby: She says the government spends too much on the military and keeping citizens incarcerated — with each system being fueled by a false narrative of fear.

Schuller: He supports maintaining federal spending and tax levels in general and says the highest earners should be in the highest income tax bracket, while those who earn less should be in the lowest tax bracket.

Marijuana

Klobuchar: She supports the current medical marijuana laws in Minnesota and opposes attempts by the federal government to interfere with the state's authority to make laws surrounding marijuana.

Newberger: He does not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Overby: She says marijuana related arrests are driving overpopulation in prisons, which is hurting taxpayers.

Schuller: He supports the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, pointing to its status as an illegal substance as the cause of many problems in our economy and society.