A Prior Lake Republican veteran hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Angie Craig released his military record this week after refusing for several days, criticizing his GOP opponents who demanded the release.

“I’m extremely proud of my service in the United States Marine Corps,” Tyler Kistner, now a reserve officer with the Corps, wrote in an email to party members. “That is why I can no longer sit back and watch other candidates in this race attack my service record out of pure desperation to score political points at the last minute of the campaign.”

Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Erika Cashin of Apple Valley earlier 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,” such as implying combat experience, 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.”

Cashin said Friday Kistner hadn’t addressed those concerns despite the document’s release.

Kistner said he didn’t claim to be a combat veteran and hadn’t touted his record the way Cashin said. His DD214 shows he was honorably discharged at the rank of captain after around eight years of duty.

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.”

The candidates

Regina Barr

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.

Erika Cashin

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.

Tyler Kistner

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.

Rick Olson

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.

Kerry Zeiler

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.”I’m extremely proud of my service in the United States Marine Corps. That is why I can no longer sit back and watch other candidates in this race attack my service record out of pure desperation to score political points at the last minute of the campaign.

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