A Montgomery trailer-tractor driver is taking a second run at a Minnesota House seat after losing last year to Rep. Todd Lippert, DFL-Northfield.
For Republican Josh Gare, a job as a tractor-trailer driver led naturally to involvement in politics. Gare has said that he’s just one of many truck drivers with an acute awareness of political issues, due to the long hours truckers spend on the job listening to the radio.
District 20B includes Northfield and rural areas to its west. It stretches into Le Sueur County, including Gare’s hometown, Montgomery. In the 2016 election, the district went for Hillary Clinton by just a single percentage point, but Lippert, a pastor in Northfield, won last time by about 11 points.
Gare is actively involved with his community, serving as an member of Montgomery’s Knights of Columbus and as vice chair of the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Gare is also involved with local Czech organizations, volunteering with the Miss Czech Slovak Minnesota competition and the Czech Domaci program in New Prague.
Having driven a truck for the last decade, Gare has said that he’s just one of many drivers who stay abreast of political issues. Gare also argues that his working class background would serve the district’s voters well in St. Paul. As the father of four daughters, he says he knows what it’s like to raise a family on a middle-class income.
Gare said he’s challenging Lippert again because he doesn’t think the district is currently being represented well in St. Paul. Gare charged that as part of the DFL majority, Lippert quickly moved to reduce transparency in government.
“It started when they changed the House rules right away to streamline things through committee by memo versus having public hearings,” he said. “I think it’s important for everybody to have a voice on rules and laws that affect them on a daily basis.”
Gare said that he’d also make access to affordable health care a top priority, a commitment that comes in part from his own experiences with the health care system. He says he’d focus on a free market approach to reform.
“We need to make healthcare more competitive,” he said. “That will give them the tools to do what’s best for themselves”
Gare did very well in the rural portions of the district, but Northfield overwhelmingly supported its hometown candidate, Lippert. Despite the defeat, Gare says he’s still optimistic that the district can be won by a Republican.
“I’m excited to get the campaign kicked off this year,” he said. “I think there’s an opportunity for a Republican to win this district, I need to get out to let people know what I’m about, who I am.”.