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Candidate's View: We must fix campaign financing, change how we do politics

Bertha in Hibbing is well into her golden years and balancing her rent payments with an increasing price tag for the inhaler and medication she relies on to treat chronic bronchitis.

While the unemployment rate in St. Louis County sits below the national average at 3.4 percent, jobs across the Arrowhead are going unfilled. Businesses are pulling out all the stops to recruit and retain employees in a tight labor market. At the same time, there are people looking to start careers and support their families but don't have the skills required to land those jobs.

And as the opioid epidemic continues devastating towns throughout the 8th Congressional District, there are still too few treatment options available and too few resources aimed at addressing the crisis.

These problems are going unsolved, and families are paying the price for inaction.

Why? Efforts to improve people's lives are preempted by the people with the biggest checkbooks and elected leaders in their pockets. That's not a coincidence. That's how our campaign finance system is designed. There are no limitations on how much special interests can spend to get the results they want.

We need to fix that.

Despite broad, bipartisan support to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, Congress has failed to act. Medicare still can't negotiate the best prices for our seniors, and lower-cost generic drugs are kept off the shelves because Big Pharma pays to shut out competition. People like Bertha deserve better.

Research shows the demand for employees with two-year degrees continues to grow. Businesses want people in their towns to be equipped with the skills offered through technical colleges. Still, legislation that would ensure all working people have a shot at success repeatedly has stalled. Instead of passing tax cuts for billionaires, Washington should focus on making two-year degrees accessible to all Americans.

Even in matters of life and death, the influence of big money has blocked progress. This year, lawmakers from across the state introduced a bipartisan bill to demand that pharmaceutical companies pay one penny for every opioid painkiller they sold to compensate for the companies' role in fueling the opioid epidemic. Big Pharma sent three dozen lobbyists and killed the legislation.

Patrick Hey from Cotton is all too familiar with how effective those lobbying efforts can be. Patrick lost his 21-year-old daughter Micaila to opioid addiction earlier this year. The consequences to her emotional health, legal issues surrounding her addiction, and the wait to get her into treatment led Micaila to suicide. Patrick became an advocate, fighting at the Capitol to pass the penny-a-pill legislation that would help make sure fewer stories end the way Micaila's did. Special interests made sure the common-sense legislation didn't get a vote and denied Patrick the ability help people in his community.

We can change the way we do politics and solve real problems like the opioid crisis by making meaningful reforms. We should require Political Action Committees, or PACs, to disclose their biggest donors and take special-interest money out of campaigns and policy decisions.

I recently earned the endorsement of End Citizens United because I've made removing dark money from our campaigns a focal point of my platform. I committed to not taking corporate PAC contributions so voters know my decisions have not been bought and paid for. Unfortunately, that's a promise my Republican opponent is unwilling to make.

I come from Crosby-Ironton, a place where actions speak louder than words. As your representative, I'll dedicate myself to honoring my campaign commitments, ending the influence of money in politics, and getting things done for the people I'm lucky enough to represent.

Joe Radinovich of Crosby is one of five DFLers running to represent Minnesota's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House. One of the five will advance from the Aug. 14 primary to Election Day on Nov. 6 in the race to replace resigning U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.

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