Cravaack’s foes say his home isn’t in MinnesotaIf home is where the heart is, then U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack is being pulled in two directions when he’s not serving at the Capitol in Washington.
By: John Myers, Pine Journal
If home is where the heart is, then U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack is being pulled in two directions when he’s not serving at the Capitol in Washington.
On one hand Cravaack, the freshman Republican says his home is unequivocally in Chisago County, in North Branch, where he moved last year from nearby Lindstrom.
On the other hand, Cravaack’s wife, Traci, and their two children moved last summer from Lindstrom to New Hampshire, not far from Boston where she was transferred in her position with a medical supply company.
In announcing the arrangement last July, Cravaack said he could make it work for everyone — himself, his family and his constituents — and he’s sticking to that promise heading toward the hotly contested November election.
But one day after judges announced that the new 8th Congressional District in Minnesota will look mostly like the old one, with North Branch still in it, critics of the incumbent said it doesn’t matter where the district lines were drawn: Cravaack really isn’t home here.
Some of those critics scheduled rallies today in Duluth and eight other cities across the district to highlight the incumbent’s living arrangement, claiming the situation can’t work to serve Northeastern Minnesota.
“It’s one thing to say your congressman spends most of his time in Washington doing the people’s work, and that’s why they can’t be home all the time,” said Al Netland, president of the AFL-CIO Northeast Labor Council that organized the rallies. “But New Hampshire isn’t near Washington. And it’s 1,500 miles from his district.’’
Cravaack has said he tries to spend at least one day each week with his family in New Hampshire and at least one in Minnesota when Congress is in session. When not in session, his staff says Cravaack spends the entire work week in the 8th District.
Michael Bars, Cravaack’s spokesman in Washington, fired back today, noting that Cravaack has held 22 town meetings across the sprawling district, including one Tuesday night in Royalton and another today with senior citizens in Little Falls.
“It’s unfortunate that some still cling to these disingenuous political attacks. Chip lives in North Branch,’’ where he spends every constituent work week, Bars said in a statement to the News Tribune. “If people can’t understand the sacrifice Chip made as a husband and a father, then there’s not a lot more they’re going to see eye-to-eye on.”
Bars said it simply did not work for Traci Cravaack to commute from Boston to Lindstrom while Chip Cravaack commuted from Washington to Lindstrom.
Others have said it’s disingenuous for DFLers to criticize Cravaack for splitting his time outside the district when 18-term incumbent DFLer Jim Oberstar hadn’t really lived full-time in his Chisholm home since graduating from high school. Oberstar essentially lived in a Washington suburb, although he returned to the district often, staying and voting at what had been his parents’ house in Chisholm.
Oberstar, whom Cravaack defeated in 2010, also was criticized for not living in the district. But travel records provided by his office during one campaign showed he spent significant amounts of non-session time in the 8th.
Federal law does not require members of Congress to live in the district they represent.
Three DFLers are vying for the right to challenge Cravaack in November — former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and former Duluth city councilor Jeff Anderson.