Paulsen camp knocks Madia for lacking kids, mortgage

Republican congressional candidate Erik Paulsen’s campaign says his DFL opponent Ashwin Madia lacks the “suburban life experience” to represent Minnesota’s 3rd District.

“Raising a family in the district, sending your kids to the public school, owning a home, working in the 3rd District, paying property taxes in the 3rd District. Erik Paulsen has done all these things. And Ashwin Madia has not,” said state Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who spoke on behalf of the Paulsen campaign at a press conference today.

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Michel questions Madia’s suburban bona fides.

And Michel argues those distinctions matter to voters.

“Do you feel what my family feels trying to save for college?” he asked. “Do you feel what my family feels sending our kids to public schools? When you talk about No Child Left Behind and the growth of the federal government’s role in education, do you feel that as a father? These are all important, sort of minimum requirements for a member of Congress from the 3rd District.”

Paulsen, 43, is a state legislator and father of four. Madia, 30, is a bachelor, and he’s making his first run for office. He’s also a lawyer and an Iraq war veteran.

“That is certainly something to be applauded, but it’s not a shortcut to Congress,” Michel said.

The Madia campaign called the press conference “desperate” and “offensive,” and said it smacked of a “failing campaign.”

“I think the key things in this race are going to be the issues, and how we handle two wars and an economic crisis, not whether someone lives in this city or that,” said state Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, speaking for the Madia campaign. “I think people want answers and results and they’re not much concerned about someone’s mortgage.”

Michel called Madia a “carpetbagger,” because Madia wasn’t living in the district when he decided to run for Congress. But Madia’s campaign says he has strong ties to Minneapolis suburbs.

Madia’s parents moved to the 3rd District when he was a junior in high school, and his family still lives there. After college and law school, Madia joined the Marine Corps and went to Iraq.

Madia had been living in Minneapolis and working at a law firm there last year, when Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad announced he wasn’t running for re-election. That set off one of the most competitive congressional contests in the country. Madia decided to enter the race.

He now rents an apartment in Plymouth, which is part of the district.

Simon, the Madia campaign’s official surrogate, pointed out that Ramstad, who holds the seat Madia and Paulsen are seeking, doesn’t have children either.

“The voters continuously and repeatedly returned [Ramstad] to office, because he commanded respect from so many people on such a broad level,” Simon said. “And I think the same thing is happening here, and I think that scares the people who are behind in this election.”

The Madia campaign plans a press conference tomorrow to respond to the Paulsen campaign’s criticisms.