By Jason Schmucker
The two Republican candidates for the District 47 state senate seat will face-off Jan. 28 in a debate at Island View Country Club in Waconia.
Dr. Scott Jensen and Jake Coleman are both seeking the county Republican party’s backing for the seat currently held by Republican Julianne Ortman, who is not seeking reelection.
The debate begins at 7 p.m., but will be preceded by a meal, social hour and opening program, all of which kick off at 5:30 p.m. Walter Hudson, who operates the PJ Media Blog and is known on local talk radio, will serve as moderator.
As for the candidates, both are eager for the chance to face-off and address the delegates, and encouraged the public to attend.
“People might find it interesting,” Jensen said. “They have certainly seen the presidential debates, but this one is more directly tied to their lives.
“I am very excited for the upcoming debate,” Coleman said. “Myself and my campaign have had the chance to door-knock all the delegates at least once and had the chance to call them multiple times and this is another great opportunity to speak directly to them and I am surely looking forward to it.”
Local party president Vince Beaudette said the issues facing Republicans in Carver County will take center stage alongside the candidates.
“They both understand that they are running for election here, in Carver County,” Beaudette said. “They know, and they have said as much, that they definitely favor reduced government, reduced activity from St. Paul, reduced taxes.”
The candidates briefly outlined the platforms they intend to discuss on debate night, and both said taxes topped their list of priorities.
“I think there are a lot of important issues in this campaign,” Coleman said. “I am looking forward to talking about how we prioritize tax relief for Minnesotans, ways to reign in the Met Council, protect our Second Amendment rights and also I want to talk a little bit about education, as well.”
“There needs to be a focus on what happens in the state senate, and what happens in the state senate that affects Carver County roads, bridges, education, health care and taxes,” Jensen said. “From my perspective, we are spending too many dollars on health care – if we can’t make an impact on that expenditure, there are not a whole lot of dollars for other things.”
While the debate is sponsored by the Carver County Republican Party, it is open to the public. There is no cost to attend, though a suggested donation can be made to the party.
“Technically, this is a senator that hopefully will be governing for all the constituents of the 47th,” Beaudette said. “The people that endorse, the people that provide the Republican endorsement are the delegates to the convention. Anyone can ask a question, and if it’s a good question, it will be given to the moderator to ask. We anticipate more questions than we will have time to get answered, but the quality of the question is foremost.”
Questions can be submitted to [email protected] The debate organizers ask that questions submitted via email have “47 Debate” in the subject line and be phrased so the question can be posed to both candidates.
Island View Country Club is located at 7795 Laketown Parkway in Waconia.
Ethan Groothuis contributed to this report.