Updated 2:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30A Prior Lake Republican veteran hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Angie Craig this week declined to provide the document detailing his military service, saying even basic details could help foreign adversaries and put other servicemembers at risk.
“As an officer and leader, I put others over myself,” U.S. Marine Corps reserve officer Tyler Kistner said in a video statement Thursday. “This is not a time to divide our party.”
Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Erika Cashin of Apple Valley this week called on Kistner to release his DD214 form, which she did previously. Prior Lake’s Rick Olson and Kerry Zeiler of Cottage Grove joined the call Wednesday.
The four, along with Regina Barr of Inver Grove Heights, are competing this Saturday for the 2nd Congressional District GOP’s endorsement to run against Craig in the fall.
“Tyler Kistner has said he is ‘the most decorated military member in this race,’ and has made multiple statements needing clarification. Tyler can put these questions to rest by simply releasing his DD 214 and proving what he has said is true,” Cashin said in a written statement.
“As more and more veterans enter the political arena, it is incumbent on both Tyler and me to set the highest standard of transparency for those who will come after us.”
Campaign consultant Billy Grant and other supporters dismissed the demand, saying it’s not a normal expectation for veteran candidates and that Kistner hadn’t touted his service the way Cashin claimed.
Kistner raised about $157,000 as of March 31, according to Federal Election Commission filings, or more than his four opponents combined. He was also recently accepted in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns recruitment program for promising candidates.
“It is very disappointing to see candidates resort to this level of negativity and desperation,” Lloyd Cheney, Iraq combat veteran and former district GOP chairman, said in a written statement provided by the Kistner campaign.
“There is no doubt that Tyler Kistner’s campaign is winning, and there is no doubt that he is the best candidate to beat Angie Craig in November.”
Zeiler, who hasn’t reported any fundraising or spending, said the call for transparency was a reasonable way to make sure the best candidate is chosen, since DD214s can be requested by the public. The Prior Lake American’s request to the U.S. Department of the Navy for the form is pending.
“The last thing any of us should want, including delegates supporting Tyler, is for there to be some problem and it actually comes out in the general election rather than now,” Zeiler said in a written statement.
Barr is a former state legislator who criticized Craig for not representing moderates and conservatives in the congressional district, which includes Scott and Dakota counties.
“We’re coming to take our seat back,” she said in her race announcement.
Barr said her 2017-2018 in the Minnesota House focused on supporting more mental health care and working on 10-year spending packages for roads and bridges. She called herself the only GOP candidate with a proven track record.
At a January GOP forum she said she supported President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration and wants to stop the political insanity in Washington. Barr has owned a corporate consulting and training firm for around 16 years.
Cashin has been with the Air Force since 1996, according to her website. She has advocated for women veterans and is sexual assault prevention and response program manager for the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Air Reserve Station.
In that work, she trains hundreds of personnel on preventing, reporting and responding to assault.
In Congress, she hopes to curb government spending and change its budget cycle to prevent yearly crises and shutdowns. She called herself a political outsider but proven leader.
“I know how the government works, I know where the problems are, I know how I want to fix them,” she said in January.
Kistner in previous interviews said his primary goal is to limit federal government overreach, opposing federal education standards and more energy regulation. He favors loosening health insurance regulation to encourage competition.
He said he wants to bring a servant-leader perspective to Congress. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and afterward joined the Corps, spending time in its special operations regiment and working for the Corps’ Central Command.
“I’ve worked the issues and I’ve actually lived the issues,” Kistner said in January.
Kistner supported the 2017 tax cuts and largely agrees with Trump, though Kistner said he was more fiscally conservative.
Olson is a Prior Lake Rotary Club member and former Michigan legislator. He said he would bring civility and a willingness to work on tough issues, such as tweaking government spending on Social Security to keep it viable.
“If you’re afraid of doing those things, you shouldn’t get in the race,” he said in January.
He called climate change one of the defining issues of the day and supports a proposal in Congress to charge a fee on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, returning the revenue to all citizens and lawful residents.
Olson also said some government intervention in health care, such as by expanding coverage, might be needed because the market and its guiding forces have broken down.
Zeiler describes himself as a small businessman, father and attorney who advocates for the downtrodden and disabled.
He favors licensing news outlets to limit misinformation, supports limiting abortion and disagrees with renewable energy mandates and a bigger government role in health care, instead wanting more health care price transparency.
In January he said he supports what he called Trump’s fight against corruption in the federal government.
“We need someone to get in there and kick a little butt,” he said. “You are watching how strong the swamp is.”