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Timothy James Walz (born April 6, 1964) is an American politician. A member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), Walz is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 1st congressional district, one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota. The district comprises the state's southern end, including his home town, Mankatomarker, and Rochestermarker, where he also has an office.

Biography

Walz during his 2006 campaign.
Walz, the son of a public school administrator and community activist, was raised in a rural community in West Point, Nebraskamarker. He graduated from Butte High School in a class of 25 students, and went on to earn a Bachelor's of Science degree in social science education from Chadron State College. Walz's first teaching experience was at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakotamarker. Walz then accepted a teaching position through Harvard Universitymarker, teaching in the People's Republic of Chinamarker.

Walz enlisted in the National Guard in 1981, and over the course of his 24-year career rose to the rank of command sergeant major. In 1989, he earned the title of Nebraska Citizen-Soldier of the Year. After a deployment to Italymarker with his Guard unit as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Walz retired from the National Guard and resumed teaching as a geography teacher and football coach at Mankato West Senior High School.

Walz's 1993 high school geography class studied genocide and its underlying conditions and causes, and predicted the genocide in Rwandamarker one year before it occurred, citing the ethnic divide, favoritism, etc.

He and his wife Gwen ran Educational Travel Adventures, accompanying high school juniors and seniors on summer educational trips to Chinamarker. He is father to a 7-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

U.S. Representative

Walz was first inspired to run for office in part by an occurrence at a 2004 rally for George W. Bush at a Mankato quarry, "where he and two students were removed due to a John Kerry sticker on one of the students' wallets". Walz had no opponent in the race for the DFL nomination for the seat in the September 12, 2006 primary election. He beat incumbent Republican Gil Gutknecht in the general election on November 7, and took office on January 4, 2007. In his victory speech, Walz said "they should've let us into the quarry." Congressman Walz is believed to be the highest-ranking graduate of Wellstone Action's Camp Wellstone.

Upon his swearing in, Walz became the highest-ranking retired enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, as well as only the fourth non-Republican to represent Minnesota's First Congressional District.

Walz serves on the House Agriculture Committee, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Along with fellow Minnesota freshman Democrat, Keith Ellison, Walz opposed President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. In his first week as a legislator, Walz cosponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage, voted for stem cell research, voted to allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, and voiced support for pay-as-you-go budget rules, requiring that tax cuts and spending increases be offset by tax increases or spending cuts.

Walz has recently cast decidedly liberal votes, although he represents a traditionally republican district. He voted no on the act to Prohibit Federally Funded Abortion Services, and voted yes to advance the current Health Care bill out of the house, while preserving the Public Option. Even through his liberal votes, He has recently been re-elected, in the election of 2008, where he won by a 30% margin. This landslide victory evidenced the fact that he is one who pleases different groups of people.

As of late, interest groups pertaining to budget, spending and taxes have given Walz poor ratings.The Americans for Fair Taxation represented Walz’s commitment and support to their cause a 0. On a similar note, the National Taxpayer’s Union gave Walz a rating of “F”. In all, within the past two years of ratings, the highest rating Representitive Walz has received in this sector was a 5, on 2007 a FreedomWork’s ratings system.

On the contrary, groups representing Civil Rights and Liberties have given Walz excellent ratings in the last 3 years. For example, the National Council of La Raza gave him a 100% approval, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People rated him a 96%. The only exception to this trend has been the Arab American’s Institute, which gave him a still respectable 67% approval rating.

Issues and Position Groups

Due to his stances on abortion, sexual orientation, and education reform, past votes on these issues and rating by many different interest organizations, Representative Tim Walz is considered a left leaning Democrat.

Abortion

Walz is a strong pro-choice advocate on the issue of abortion. When asked in 2006 he responded that he supported all kinds of legal abortions especially in cases of incest or rape. He has supported 100% of legislation Planned Parenthood and the Nation Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. For instance, he voted against House Amendment 509, which would have prohibited federally funded abortion services, and likewise did not support amendment 510 which would have lowered health care liability to insurance companies but would also prevent the usage of federal funds for abortions. When asked his position on universal national health care, Walz supported movements for extending healthcare to all and has voted in favor of many bills for universal healthcare. Because of his strong belief that abortions should be legal and federally funded, the National Right to Life Committee, a strongly pro-life organization, when asked to rate him on their point system, gave Walz a failing score of 0.

Sexual Orientation

Walz is also a strong advocate for same sex marriage. When asked, Walz confirmed his support for federal anti-discrimination laws on the basis sexual orientation. In a 2009 speech in Washington DC, Walz called for an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, saying that sexual discrimination has no place in the military and that sexual orientation of individuals does not affect the “professionalism” of units. He likewise expressed support and voted for legislation prosecuting crimes based on sexual orientation as federal crimes. He also voted in favor of the Sexual Orientation Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would extend nondiscrimination laws to cover training, referring of workers and preferential treatment based on sexual orientation. In the year 2007, Walz completely supported PFLAG’s agenda and received a 90% grade from the Human Rights Campaign on his stance for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Education

Walz also supports many reforms for the education system. He supports many reforms to get additional funds for schools, but doesn’t support certain reforms such as affirmative action in public university admissions or merit pay for teachers in low-income schools. Walz has voted in favor of bills designed to help give money to school building projects. In a public statement, he has stated that he wishes push programs that would help lower college tuition. He said in a February 12, 2009 speech, that the most important thing to do “to ensure a solid base for [America’s] economic future…is to provide the best education possible for [American] children.” He has received strong backing for these policies by many interest groups such as the National Education Association, the American Association of University Women and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Committee assignments



Election campaigns

2008

2006

References

  1. New York Times, "High School Project on Genocide Was a Portent of Real-Life Events"
  2. The others were Thomas Wilson 1887-1889 (D), William Harries 1891-1893 (D), and Tim Penny 1983-1995 (DFL).
  3. http://www.opencongress.org/states/MN/districts/1
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