Steve Sarvi first met Rep. John Kline in 2004, at Camp Bondsteel in southern Kosovo. The staff Sergeant was serving with the Minnesota National Guard, patrolling the border with Macedonia for smugglers. The then-freshman congressman was on a fact-finding mission and stopped by to visit with troops and gauge morale.
What Kline heard from the soldiers were complaints about their inability to utilize educational benefits because they kept getting deployed overseas by the country’s over-extended military. Kline’s response, as Sarvi tells it, was a variation on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous military maxim: you go to war with the army you have.
“While he was sympathetic to the soldiers saying we can’t even go to school using the benefits that we have,” Sarvi recalls, “it was, ‘Well that’s just the situation we find ourselves in.’”
Congressman Kline voted against the expanded benefits of the "new GI Bill".
Demko takes a look at the changing DFL face of the Second Congressional District.
But recent trends in the district suggest that the seat might be more vulnerable than it appears. In 2006, Amy Klobuchar won the Second by a comfortable 10-point margin in the U.S. Senate race. And following the victory of Kevin Dahle in a January special election, DFL’ers now control a majority (17 to 16) of state legislative seats in the district. They’ve picked up 11 posts in just the last two election cycles. The Cook Partisan Voting Index rates the Second +3 for the GOP. By comparison the Sixth Congressional District, where Democrats have mounted vigorous campaigns in each of the last two election cycles, is assessed as +5 for Republicans.
Indeed, the 2nd CD actually has a better DFL index than the 6th!
Sarvi gets it. In my conversations with him, he's a straight shooter who is working to bring people together. Sarvi has a positive message and an opponent who has a history of being a rubber stamp for President Bush. It's going to be a tough race as incumbents in Congress are pretty tough to beat.
If we really want change, we'll unite around great candidates like Steve Sarvi and Ashwin Madia.
Sending Sergeant Sarvi some campaign funds won't hurt either!