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Amane Badhasso Is Running For Congress In St. Paul... What You Need To Know

Minnesota's 4th congressional district hasn't been very politically dramatic. The PVI in the St Paul-centered district is D+16 and standard issue Democrat Betty McCollum hasn't had a serious challenge since first being elected in 2000, after serving on the St. Paul city council and in the state legislature since 1986. Hillary beat Trump there 61.5% to 30.6% and Biden beat him last year 67.5% to 30.5%. McCollum was reelected 63.3% to 29.0% against Republican sacrificial lamb Gene Rechzigel. She always wins overwhelmingly in both Ramsey and Washington counties. It's worth noting that in 2016, the district voted solidly for Bernie, who beat Hillary 58.2% to 41.8%. (Bernie won every district in the state.) McCollum is not a reflection of that kind of aggressive progressivism or anyone who seems terribly concerned about transformative change. She scores a solid "B" from ProgressivePunch and and she's not bad on anything; she just isn't especially good either.

This cycle she has a primary challenge from a strong progressive activist Amane Badhasso who I asked to introduce herself to DWT readers with a guest post. Please read it and, if you like it, consider contributing to her campaign here.

It's Time For Bold Leadership And Transformative Change

-by Amane Badhasso

My name is Amane Badhasso, and I’m running for Congress in Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District because it’s time to fight for Economic Justice, Racial Justice and Environmental Justice for the working class families of our district.

I was born in a rural village in Ethiopia, but I spent much of my childhood as a refugee in Kenya. When I came to the United States as a 13-year-old, I experienced the promise of the American dream and saw firsthand the challenges that our country faces. In this moment of crisis, I know that what we need is bold and transformative leadership that is embedded in the community.

We cannot hope to overcome the sweeping challenges that face our district and our nation with the same status quo, politics-as-usual approach we’ve seen over the past two decades. We know in our district when we elect bold new leaders, they implement progressive policy. If we are going to confront systemic racial injustice and inequality, if we want to make substantive gains in the fight to save our planet, and if we want to rebuild and protect our democracy - then we need to make a change.

For my entire adult life, I have been an advocate for human rights and an organizer. I have spent the last decade building progressive infrastructure and helping organize and turn out the vote in Minnesota's progressive and BIPOC communities. I have engaged with the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in various capacities since 2013, including as a key organizer for Keith Ellison. In 2020, I was a key staffer on the DFL coordinated campaign to elect Joe Biden and the rest of our Democratic ticket. I have worked tirelessly with my staff and volunteer network to help Democrats and progressives win up and down the ballot all over the Twin Cities. I have led efforts on international human rights advocacy, particularly on human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Currently, I serve on the St. Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission, helping ensure St. Paul uses a racial and economic equity lens to help make the best decisions possible.

As an organizer, I know the importance of bringing people together around our shared values, and I know that winning one seat isn’t enough to build the grassroots movement for change that our country desperately needs. I also know that leadership begins with listening, being embedded in the community, and engaging directly with the people who are struggling most.

Our district has changed dramatically since our current Representative Betty McCollum left for Washington in 2001. It has become increasingly diverse and has made progress to elect leaders who reflect that change. Since 2000, the district has gone from 23% nonwhite to 38%. As of 2019, 22% of residents in the fourth district were born outside the United States. The St. Paul City Council and the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners are now both represented by a female majority. In 2018, we elected Melvin Carter as Mayor of St. Paul, the first African American to hold the office. He helped raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 and led the city through the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis while instituting long overdue police reform measures. Mayor Carter also proved we can lead the nation in progressive policy when he made St. Paul the first major city to institute a guaranteed income pilot program to support the most economically vulnerable families and their children. In 2019 we elected my campaign Chairwoman Nelsie Yang, the youngest and first Hmong American woman to serve on the city council in the history of Saint Paul. We have also sent a historic number of women to both the Minnesota State House and State Senate. Just last week, we passed the ballot initiative to cap yearly rent increases to protect tenants and prevent economically abusive practices by landlords and developers. This is what our community can do: be the model for progressive change in our state and our country.

Being progressive means getting the job done and making real change. Representative McCollum has been in Congress for over two decades and has only authored two bills that have passed into law in that time, one of which was the renaming of a post office. In this moment, we don’t need empty words and broken promises. We need solutions, and leaders that will deliver real progress.

In Congress, I will fight for the transformative change we have seen instituted locally around the 4th District. I have continuously supported and campaigned on behalf of the working class people in my district. But despite our excellent local leadership, people are still struggling. They are struggling because of unaffordable healthcare and the high cost of their prescription drugs. We must allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and it’s well-past time for us to deliver Medicare for All and to guarantee affordable healthcare for everyone. We need to pass the Green New Deal and put forward real solutions to our climate crisis. We need to legalize marijuana and expunge criminal records for marijuana related charges. We need reparations that will address the historical injustice of slavery and structural racism in our communities. We need to codify Roe vs Wade and repeal the Hyde Amendment to provide all people with access to abortion care. To bring these ideals into reality, we need leaders that reflect the urgency of this moment because every day wasted is a lost opportunity.

Another key reason I am running for Congress is to build progressive power in the state party and grow our bench of progressive candidates and staff. The Minnesota DFL and our coordinated campaign are unique from other states across the country. The DFL’s ability to staff and operate a successful coordinated campaign each cycle and support candidates up and down the ballot is directly impacted by the funding it receives from incumbents. When the incumbents with the highest national profiles hoard their resources, they ignore the obligation they have towards the very structure that put them in office. Additionally, I believe our congressional leadership has an obligation to be boots-on-the-ground helping get other progressives elected up and down the ballot. From school board to park board, from State House to County Commissioner, progressive candidates must be supported by other progressives.

The progressive movement in Minneapolis has done the hard work of building this infrastructure over the past decade. In 2018, the last time we elected a new Governor and were fighting to take back the House, Congressman Keith Ellison gave over $270,000 to the DFL to invest in organizers to empower Democrats to get out and vote. During the decade he served in congress, he gave a total of $741,618 to the state party. For comparison, in her twenty years in office Betty McCollum has given just $286,000 TOTAL to the DFL. Representative Betty McCollum hasn’t just failed to move the progressive movement forward: she has shown no interest in even attempting to do so. Trust me when I say this: I’ve been doing the hard work to build progressive infrastructure for the better part of a decade and I will not let our community down. I will show up. I will knock doors. I will listen, I will learn, and I will represent ALL of the people in the 4th district in Washington.

The Fourth Congressional District deserves an energetic and passionate voice to advocate for working families and take on the special interests and corruption that have stalled progress in Washington. To join our campaign, go to Together, we are going to deliver transformative change, progress, and Economic, Environmental & Racial Justice for all.

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