Democrat Angie Craig became part of a historic election night when she and a record number of women won seats in Congress.
When the next Congress is sworn in January, at least 123 of the members will be women. The wave of women swept into power were seen by many as a pushback against President Trump and what critics saw as his denigrating and demeaning remarks of women.
Craig, a one-time business executive who will be representing Minnesota’s 2nd District, said what happened on election night reflected what she has witnessed in the business world: When qualified women run, more often than not they will win.
“The truth of the matter is, the more women who run, the more women will win,” Craig said. “After 2016, the chaos of the last couple of years (prompted) a lot of well-qualified women to step off the sidelines and get involved in politics.”
Craig, an Eagan resident, was also part of net gain of 37 House seats for Democrats, the biggest wave election for the party following Watergate in 1974, giving them control of the body and an ability to pursue investigations against the president.
It was Craig’s second try for the congressional seat, running against Republican Rep Jason Lewis.
The issues that dominated her race echoed the national conversation about health care and affordability. Weeks before the election, CNN reported a series of comments made by Lewis on his syndicated radio show, including a lament that women could no longer be called “sluts.”
Craig says that it was “extraordinary” that so many woman won.
She is particularly pleased how the election played out for Minnesota’s congressional delegation, half of which will be made up of women. They include U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and representatives Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar and Craig.
“Half of (Minnesota’s delegation) is made up of women. Minnesota is fully represented. The country has a ways to go,” Craig said.
Craig came from humble beginnings. She grew up in a mobile home court and attended college while living in a mobile home. It was one of the reasons she ran for Congress: It shouldn’t matter how rich the circumstances a person is born into.
“It should only matter if you work hard,” Craig said. “You ought to be able to go out and create your own American dream. That’s what I’m going to be keeping in mind as a representative of this district.”
Here are a several more excerpts from the PB’s interview with Craig.
PB: What do you hope the upcoming Congress is about?
Craig: I hope that we focus on the priorities that I ran on for Congress. The voters in my district sent a very loud message that they want to focus on reducing the cost of health care. I’m going to work across the aisle to do whatever in my power I can to bring down the cost of health care for families.
I ran on investing and transportation and infrastructure as a core part of my campaign. We have a major skills gap in the Minnesota jobs market. I’m going to focus on how we can narrow that gap.
PB: There is speculation that the Democratic-led House will seek to impeach Trump. What is your position on that?
Craig: There is an independent investigation, and it’s important that the independent investigation proceed. But I don’t think that any Democrat should be talking or having a conversation about impeachment. Period.
PB: 16 Democrats have said they won’t support Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House for the upcoming session? Do you support her?
Craig: It’s interesting. She’s the only one running for the job. And I’m sure as hell not voting for (Republican) Kevin McCarthy. She’s got the skills and the experience. I said from the start, I’m going to support the person who comes out of the (Democratic) caucus. I’m going to vote for a Democrat and she’s the only one running.
PB: Some pundits believes the next two years could just be more gridlock. With House controlled by a diverse Democratic party and the Senate and presidency controlled by Republicans, they believe it will produce a lot of stalemate.
Craig: We didn’t see a whole lot of progress over the last two years about the things my voters seem to care about: Reducing the cost of health care, infrastructure investment. I think, first and foremost, that this president is a dealmaker. I think we’ve got a better shot if Democrats will come together and work with the administration to stabilize the cost of health in this country. I think we’ve got a better shot on infrastructure and investment.
PB: What committees do you hope to be appointed to?
Craig: I would like to be on the Ag Committee. I’ve already talked to Collin Peterson about that. A large portion of my congressional district is a rural economy. I would also like to be a member of Transportation and Infrastructure. There are an awful lot of highways, roads, bridges and high-speed internet needs in this district and I would like to work with towns, cities and townships on making sure that we meet those needs.