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Minnesota voter guide: Where the 4th District candidates stand on the issues

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Rep. Betty McCollum, Greg Ryan
Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum and Greg Ryan, her Republican challenger for the 4th District seat in Congress.
Tony Saunders | MPR News

Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum has held her seat in Congress for 18 years. 

This year, she faces the same two challengers she did in the 2016 contest: Republican Greg Ryan and Susan Pendergast Sindt with the Legal Marijuana Now party. The district comprises St. Paul and its suburbs to the north and west. 

The 2016 contest wasn't close — McCollum took almost 58 percent of the vote

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

On President Trump

McCollum: "My top priority is to use the power of Congress to hold President Trump and his administration accountable for their harmful actions and policies. The blatant level of corruption and profiteering in this White House demands extensive congressional investigation." She has co-sponsored articles of impeachment against the president.

Ryan: Ryan is "in full support" of the president and his administration. 

Pendergast Sindt: The candidate does not have a public position on the president. 

Gun control

McCollum: She supports universal background checks and wants to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Ryan: He doesn't want changes in federal law and says states have rights to change their own laws on guns. 

Pendergast Sindt: She supports "common sense gun legislation" and background checks for buying guns. 

Health care

McCollum: McCollum supports the Affordable Care Act and wants a public option added. 

Ryan: He's critical of the Affordable Care Act, including how long and complicated it is. He has said he wouldn't sign a bill longer than five pages. He says there should be more choice in health care and that a Medicaid-for-all plan is "not good because it really gives us zero choice."

Pendergast Sindt: She supports a public health care system funded by taxes and says companies should have profit limits for life-extending drugs. 

K-12 education priorities

McCollum: "The most important role the federal government can play in K-12 public education is to provide full funding to school districts for special education — the Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA). The failure to fully fund IDEA shifts the funding burden to local school districts which then diverts limited resources away from classroom instruction and a high-quality education."

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: She believes in smaller classes and more staff. 

Higher education

McCollum: McCollum wants to address the cost of college by "reducing tuition for working families, protecting a strong Pell Grant program and enforcing protections for student loan borrowers."

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: She supports offering two years of free tuition at post-secondary institutions and low-interest education loans. 

Immigration

McCollum: McCollum supports a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants, including those brought across the border as children. She also criticizes the Trump administration refugee and asylum policy, saying the U.S. should "resettle no less than 75,000 refugees per year."

Ryan: Ryan says the U.S. should fully enforce existing immigration laws before considering other changes to immigration policy. 

Pendergast Sindt: She told WCCO she opposes a U.S.-Mexico border wall and that Dreamers should have a pathway to citizenship. 

Abortion

McCollum: McCollum supports abortion rights. 

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: "The decision to have an abortion is a matter of personal choice, and personal decisions must be made by individuals and never by government officials."

Jobs and the economy

McCollum: She says the Trump administration's "trade war" with China and tariffs will likely hurt agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors. She says the government must create a "fair playing field" for workers and businesses.

Ryan: Ryan backs the Trump administration's tariffs, calling them "a tool to bring the playing field down to a level game." He also says "people from the private sector do the dirty work and create the jobs," and said those in "the 1 percent" are the people hiring small businesses and investing in new technologies. 

Pendergast Sindt: "I support the development of small businesses to create the foundation of our communities and allowing money to flow and cycle through businesses creating local economies."

Climate change

McCollum: McCollum says "our planet is in peril" due to climate change and said she supports "strategic investments" in clean energy. She has also backed emissions reduction efforts.

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: She told WCCO she believes the U.S. should exceed targets set under the Paris climate accord. 

Copper-nickel mining

McCollum: McCollum has opposed copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters. "If we make a mistake in the Boundary Waters and [these] toxic, heavy metals and acid leak into the water, it is generations and generations that will pay for our risky behavior to jump for quick profit."

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: "We must protect our wild land, especially our wetlands. We will never be able to return the environment back after mining destroys it."

Taxes and government spending

McCollum: She opposed the recent Republican tax cut and says they'll "only stimulate income inequality." She supports spending on infrastructure improvements.

Ryan: He says he would've voted for the Republican tax plan and that it "didn't go far enough." Ryan also wants to cut federal spending

Pendergast Sindt: She wants to end tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy and supports a flat tax rate. 

Marijuana

McCollum: She has supported states' rights to legalize marijuana. 

Ryan: The candidate appears to have no public position. MPR News has reached out for comment.

Pendergast Sindt: She supports legal marijuana for recreational, medicinal and industrial uses.

This post was updated Oct. 23 with more responses from Susan Pendergast Sindt's campaign.