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Olson wages independent battle against Oberstar

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Tim Olson believes in smaller government, cutting taxes and letting competition in the marketplace determine health care reform, yet he's not campaigning as a Republican.

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"I'm as conservative as you can get," says Olson of Buhl, the Independence Party-endorsed candidate seeking to oust long-time U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District.

The biggest difference between Olson and Republican-endorsed candidate Chip Cravaack is "we are not held to the special interests," Olson said this week in an interview. "We're not held to the establishment -- to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party."

Olson points to the partisanship in both the House and the Senate and the lack of getting anything done without angering one side or the other.

"Nobody's got a spine," said Olson, a timber industry business owner in transition. "No one is saying, hey, you do have a good idea over there. I can cross over and support that."

With the balance of power so close, Olson says his election as an independent will have him "sitting in a good spot, just because we're going to have both sides willing to work with us."

As an independent, Olson believes he can cross over party lines and get work done.

"You're going to work to get legislation passed," he says, "You're going to align yourself with people that obviously have your same values. But they're going to have to work with you to get what they want passed, just because they're going to need to get your vote."

Olson will be in a crowded Nov. 2 field. Aside from his Independence Party bid, there's Cravaack of Lindstrom with the GOP bid and Richard "George" Burton of Brainerd running under the Constitution Party banner.

Oberstar, seeking a 19th term, must first get by the Aug. 10 DFL primary, where he faces W.D. "Bill" Hamm of Bovey.

Olson is a Virginia, Minn., native who entered the family timber and sawmill business near Orr. Olson Logging was sold after he lost his father to illness and his brother to an industrial accident, working then as a manager for a wood pellet plant in Deer River.

With the housing slump, the business went into hiatus and Olson says he's between jobs. Meanwhile, his wife, Lori, has been a teacher for 27 years in the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District.

He supports small business growth, and would encourage lower business taxes by a third. He opposes the so-called "cap-and-trade" effort to tax carbon emissions, saying it will drastically raise electrical costs.

Olson worries about the rising national debt but would oppose reform efforts to raise money through a value-added tax, which is essentially a national sales tax at each stage of production.

He thinks competition in the martketplace should settle out health care reform, and would repeal the newly enacted bill. He notes that there are about 18 million people who don't have health insurance who make between $50,000 and $75,000. They simply don't want it.

"I'm very much pro-business, small government," he said. "Let's let people do the job and let's not regulate. I don't think government should be in business, and they have not done a very good job with it so far."

Olson knows it will be tough to topple Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but he says the 19-term Democrat hasn't represented the district well.

"There's a lot to infrastructure in rebuilding our roads and bridges, but we also have a mining industry, a timber industry, a huge tourism industry, we have a farming industry," Olson said. "What about those?"

Oberstar has numerous awards from the aviation industry, labor, and bicycle trails. "Probably 95 percent of the timber industry is in his district of the state of Minnesota," Olson said, "Why is it in 36 years he has never won an award from the timber industry?"

At one time, that was a $13 billion industry, Olson said. "If you look where he's getting his money from, it's the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, it's Earth First -- he gets a lot of money from special interest groups, so he's not going to support that industry."

The Clean Water Restoration Act that Oberstar is shepherding through Congress will hurt the mining industry, Olson said. "It could shut mining down in six years -- mining is exempt for six years."

He spoke about efforts for underground mining with PolyMet. "The way the Clean Water Restoration Act is written, that's history," Olson said. "Why are they wanting to change it? Because environmental groups are putting pressure on him to do that."

He called the bill "a land grab."

Olson says he's for renewable energy but fears that ill-gotten riches will be made off a cap-and-trade system. "Basically, they're trying to tax carbon. ... Who gets the money?"

There's too much politics in the global warming issue and not enough facts, he said.

Oberstar won't hold town hall meetings in the 8th District, but Olson said he'd have a regular schedule of town hall meetings throughout the district.

"That means you take the heat and well as the praise, and you don't just come for ribbon-cuttings," Olson said.

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

Tim Olson believes in smaller government, cutting taxes and letting competition in the marketplace determine health care reform, yet he's not campaigning as a Republican.

"I'm as conservative as you can get," says Olson of Buhl, the Independence Party-endorsed candidate seeking to oust long-time U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District.

The biggest difference between Olson and Republican-endorsed candidate Chip Cravaack is "we are not held to the special interests," Olson said this week in an interview. "We're not held to the establishment -- to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party."

Olson points to the partisanship in both the House and the Senate and the lack of getting anything done without angering one side or the other.

"Nobody's got a spine," said Olson, a timber industry business owner in transition. "No one is saying, hey, you do have a good idea over there. I can cross over and support that."

With the balance of power so close, Olson says his election as an independent will have him "sitting in a good spot, just because we're going to have both sides willing to work with us."

As an independent, Olson believes he can cross over party lines and get work done.

"You're going to work to get legislation passed," he says, "You're going to align yourself with people that obviously have your same values. But they're going to have to work with you to get what they want passed, just because they're going to need to get your vote."

Olson will be in a crowded Nov. 2 field. Aside from his Independence Party bid, there's Cravaack of Lindstrom with the GOP bid and Richard "George" Burton of Brainerd running under the Constitution Party banner.

Oberstar, seeking a 19th term, must first get by the Aug. 10 DFL primary, where he faces W.D. "Bill" Hamm of Bovey.

Olson is a Virginia, Minn., native who entered the family timber and sawmill business near Orr. Olson Logging was sold after he lost his father to illness and his brother to an industrial accident, working then as a manager for a wood pellet plant in Deer River.

With the housing slump, the business went into hiatus and Olson says he's between jobs. Meanwhile, his wife, Lori, has been a teacher for 27 years in the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District.

He supports small business growth, and would encourage lower business taxes by a third. He opposes the so-called "cap-and-trade" effort to tax carbon emissions, saying it will drastically raise electrical costs.

Olson worries about the rising national debt but would oppose reform efforts to raise money through a value-added tax, which is essentially a national sales tax at each stage of production.

He thinks competition in the martketplace should settle out health care reform, and would repeal the newly enacted bill. He notes that there are about 18 million people who don't have health insurance who make between $50,000 and $75,000. They simply don't want it.

"I'm very much pro-business, small government," he said. "Let's let people do the job and let's not regulate. I don't think government should be in business, and they have not done a very good job with it so far."

Olson knows it will be tough to topple Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but he says the 19-term Democrat hasn't represented the district well.

"There's a lot to infrastructure in rebuilding our roads and bridges, but we also have a mining industry, a timber industry, a huge tourism industry, we have a farming industry," Olson said. "What about those?"

Oberstar has numerous awards from the aviation industry, labor, and bicycle trails. "Probably 95 percent of the timber industry is in his district of the state of Minnesota," Olson said, "Why is it in 36 years he has never won an award from the timber industry?"

At one time, that was a $13 billion industry, Olson said. "If you look where he's getting his money from, it's the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, it's Earth First -- he gets a lot of money from special interest groups, so he's not going to support that industry."

The Clean Water Restoration Act that Oberstar is shepherding through Congress will hurt the mining industry, Olson said. "It could shut mining down in six years -- mining is exempt for six years."

He spoke about efforts for underground mining with PolyMet. "The way the Clean Water Restoration Act is written, that's history," Olson said. "Why are they wanting to change it? Because environmental groups are putting pressure on him to do that."

He called the bill "a land grab."

Olson says he's for renewable energy but fears that ill-gotten riches will be made off a cap-and-trade system. "Basically, they're trying to tax carbon. ... Who gets the money?"

There's too much politics in the global warming issue and not enough facts, he said.

Oberstar won't hold town hall meetings in the 8th District, but Olson said he'd have a regular schedule of town hall meetings throughout the district.

"That means you take the heat and well as the praise, and you don't just come for ribbon-cuttings," Olson said.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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