Prior Lake resident Tyler Kistner was endorsed by 2nd District Republicans on the first ballot during Saturday’s online convention to face off against U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, D-Eagan.
Kistner, who served as a Marine Special Operations Forces veteran for nine years, earned the endorsement over two other candidates who had strong support among delegates – Apple Valley resident Erika Cashin and South St. Paul resident Regina Barr. There were reportedly 400 participants in the convention that was held virtually using the online platform Zoom.
Also vying for the endorsement were Prior Lake resident Rick Olson and Cottage Grove resident Kerry Zeiler.
“I am honored to have earned your endorsement to be your candidate in 2020,” Kistner said in a Facebook message. “I’d like to thank Regina Barr and Erika Cashin for running a spirited campaign.”
As a Marine, Kistner said he has been on four overseas tours, leading and commanding over 500 personnel conducting counter-terrorism and confronting China/Russia aggression operations.
“Now, our party must unite together to beat Angie Craig in November,” he said in a statement. “These are not ordinary times, and the stakes have never been higher. Our country is facing an unprecedented enemy in the form of this pandemic and a record number of families and small businesses are hurting. I will fight for the people of Minnesota and work with President Trump to get our country and our economy back on track.”
Kistner had endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz; U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan; U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher; 2018 Minnesota attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow and state Rep. Steve Drazkowski.
“Kistner’s experience serving in the Marines, and overall candidacy highlights the importance of the voices of a younger generation and will be a welcomed addition to Congress,” said Republican Party of Minnesota of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan. “Kistner’s decisive win proves he is a force to be reckoned with on the campaign trail and is going to be just the person to defeat Angie Craig in November.”
The 2nd District includes all or portions of Dakota, Scott, Wabasha, Goodhue and Rice counties.
Craig won the office by unseating former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis in 2018, two years after the conservative former talk radio host defeated her for an open House seat.
Kistner has posted his political views on his campaign website, www.tylerkistnerforcongress.com/
Kistner said he is a proponent of the free market and trade agreement proponents and supports “the complete deregulation of the free market system to make it truly free.”
Kistner said he wants more free trade agreements with regional partners while reforming current ones.
“This is an attempt to protect the nation and our businesses from corrupt foreign government practices which hurt our economy while strengthening theirs,” he said.
He said he supports maintaining tax reform passed by the Trump administration and ensuring small business owners and entrepreneurs continue receiving tax breaks to foster their development.
Kistner credited Trump’s agenda with fostering record high economic prosperity and low unemployment levels.
To achieve economic stability again, Kistner said people need to be able to return to work but only by being safe.
To Kistner, a private, patient-centered health care plan — not constituting a government takeover — is needed to cut premiums and deductibles. He said the country needs to renew its focus on wellness, diagnostic testing and prevention and focus greater on the quality of health care.
“We need to allow patients to become better consumers of health care in a more transparent free market where they can see costs and outcomes,” he said. “We need to give families more control over their health care finances by expanding health savings accounts, making premiums tax deductible for individuals, and allowing for greater portability.”
To Kistner, insurers need to be allowed to compete across state lines to give people more health care options. He said the U.S. needs to allow European and Canadian pharmaceutical companies to safely sell to American consumers.
Kistner supports more state control over education.
“This will enable school districts to address local education issues without seeking federal permission to do so,” he said. “I am completely in favor of all types of school options — public, voucher, charter, parochial, private, etc.,” he said. “Every parent should have the choice to send their child to any school they so choose.”
Kistner said he wants to reign in spending and cut national debt. He plans to release more detailed spending plans at a later date.
According to Kistner’s website, he believes the U.S. has a “responsibility to maintain a security presence globally to protect freedom and U.S. interest. This forward presence helps us keep our enemies off American shores.”
To him, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are looking to undermine U.S. influence and power across the globe while enhancing their offensive nuclear, cyber and space capabilities.
“We need to support the funding of our military and ensure that funding goes to the right places to enhance our military and national security,” he said. “Our focus needs to be on the increase of our defense forces and cyber securities to ensure we maintain a clear strategic advantage.”
Kistner said he is “100% pro-Second Amendment” and opposes gun-restriction laws.
“We don’t need more gun control in America,” he said. “We need gun education and stronger mental health awareness.”
He said he opposes abortion and supports prohibiting federal funding of abortion services by cutting Title X funding to Planned Parenthood.
“I would vote to cut off all federal funding to the organization,” he said.
Kistner criticizes Craig
Kistner said Craig is partly to blame for the Democratic Party’s broken promises over the last two years. To him, the party has little to show recently except for impeaching and investigating the Trump administration.
Perhaps Kistner’s biggest issue with Craig, however, is what he sees as her willingness to advance special interests and lobbyists.
— Sun Thisweek and the Associated Press contributed to this report