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Midterm elections 2018: Who’s running and how is EHS responding?

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Many EHS seniors are eligible to vote this year.

Many EHS seniors are eligible to vote this year.

Hanna Faris

Hanna Faris

Many EHS seniors are eligible to vote this year.

By Leo Hickey, Edina High School

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Two years ago, with the 2016 presidential election fast approaching, all talk was of politics. Students expressed their political opinions freely, and debate about presidential politics was common. However, with the 2018 midterms fast approaching, the political atmosphere lacks the debates that 2016 elections provoked. While there are certainly groups of students everywhere that are involved in politics, the general student body is largely silent about the midterms to the extent that many students are uninformed about the people running for office or even the details of the election itself.

Besides some politically minded students and political clubs such as debate and Young Americans for Freedom, there is doubt on the general political activism of late. “I don’t think most people really have it on their minds that much,” Edina High School senior Leah Schmitt said. “Senior year especially is so hectic and so full of stuff that’s happening like college applications, and everyone is doing extracurriculars…there’s all this pressure and all this stuff to do, so I’m not sure everyone has the time.” With 12th grade being so busy, many students, even if they care about politics, simply don’t allocate time to become involved in the political process.

The Minnesota midterm elections are slightly different than normal because of the resignation of Al Franken last year. On Nov. 6, the day of the midterms, a special election will be held to nominate his replacement. This means that both Minnesotan seats in the U.S Senate will be up for election. Franken’s seat is currently filled by Tina Smith, a Democrat that was put into the seat temporarily by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Although Smith hasn’t been in office long enough to influence a large amount of policy, one issue on Smith’s platform relevant to EHS Students is banning assault weapons. This is a topic that has been hotly debated in the EHS community, and Smith’s senatorial influence has a chance to sway these laws for Minnesota if she holds her seat. Smith is currently fighting against Republican party nominee Karin Housley, who, according to his campaign site, favors more conservative policy beliefs such as lowering tax rates and preserving gun rights. If Housley wins the Senate seat, it would grow the Senatorial Republican majority to 52%, further increasing the likelihood of more conservative policy being passed.

The other senatorial race is between Jim Newberger and Amy Klobuchar, who is a Democrat that has held her Minnesota Senate seat for 11 years. She has written legislation fighting for universal healthcare, a policy that affects many Edina residents. On one hand, some residents that struggle with expensive healthcare argue that it needs to be more affordable, while other residents argue that universal health care creates higher taxes and is less efficient. Additionally, her stance on gun laws has earned her an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association, and her legislation is part of the reason Minnesota has stricter firearm laws.

Her opponent Jim Newberger, a conservative-standing politician that has served in the Minnesota House of Representatives since 2012. He, among other things, fights against the Affordable Healthcare Act, which, if revoked, would cause residents all across the state’s healthcare to shift by privatizing healthcare. He is a strong supporter of preserving the second amendment and is pushing for tax cuts, including reversing estate taxes, across Minnesota.

While there is some speculation from sources such as the New York Times that Democratic party will come out on top of the 2018 midterm election, previous midterm results have proved too unpredictable to accurately call prematurely.

Additionally, the 2018 election also includes the election of a new Minnesota governor. Mark Dayton, the current governor, will not be eligible for reelection. The two candidates fighting for the race are Tim Walz, a Democrat who supports focusing more state spending on public education and accessible healthcare, and Jeff Johnson, a Republican that wants to reduce state spending and keep current gun laws untouched. According to Minnesota Public Radio, on September 15, Walz was up 9 points, but, again, the polls are fluctuating too much to make an accurate call.

Finally, one more race that will majorly affect Edina is the race for the state representative of district 49A, which includes the city of Edina. The two candidates are Democrat Heather Edelson and Republican Dario Anselmo. Both candidates have similar views on some topics in that they both support increasing funding for education, and both candidates have similar, if not exactly mirrored, beliefs on imposing background checks on firearms. This race, more than any other this election, is looking to be very close.

Regardless of political beliefs, however, many students who are more involved in politics are convinced that the midterms are much more important than EHS students are making them out to be. It is especially important that EHS seniors become involved, as many of them are old enough to vote themselves. For the political process to work, as many people as possible need to become involved, including EHS seniors. “I think that’s a shame really, because a lot of the time we focus on the executive office as the most important, but there’s a reason we get taught about checks and balances in 9th grade… for example, if there’s a president you disagree with, if you are electing people you think are opposed to the president, and they can supersede some of his decisions,” Schmitt said. The midterms clearly do not make the splash on political culture the quadrennial presidential elections do. However, the people elected undoubtedly create a lot of change equally, if not more, relevant to Edina than presidential figures. For this reason, “I think midterm elections are underrated in their importance,” Schmitt said.

This story was originally published on Zephryus on October 16, 2018.

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