Over the course of my career, I’ve found that the best public servants are defined not by their ideology, but by their approach to the job. I can imagine no better example than Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.
Tina and I have known each other for more than 30 years, often working together on behalf of the state we both love. I have always been impressed by her intelligence, her integrity, and her compassion for others. She understands that public service means working for everyone, and that it requires the ability to work with anyone. These qualities make her one of the most effective servant leaders we’ve ever had.
Effectiveness is no small matter when it comes to choosing a United States senator. We only get two; they must be able to deliver for our state instead of just shouting their opinions. And in the short time she’s served in the Senate, Tina has delivered for us over and over again.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, Tina worked across the aisle to help craft legislation that would make sure Minnesota had enough tests and the capacity to trace the spread of the disease. She wrote the law that ensures you can get tested for no cost even if you don’t have insurance. And now she’s pushing forward on a $50 billion plan to help keep childcare providers in business and help parents go back to work when it’s safe.
As the pandemic took its toll on our economy, some partisans chose to politicize the issue, offering wild conspiracy theories about the disease and irresponsible calls to ignore the warnings of public health experts. Tina, as she always has, tuned out the noise and focused on the work. When the administration proposed a coronavirus relief package that would have failed Minnesota families and businesses, she didn’t just vote against it and walk away. She fought to make it better, working with her colleagues in both parties to build consensus around a better bill. In the end, she helped to secure more than $2 billion in direct aid to our state, plus billions more for our schools, hospitals and small businesses.
Tina will never be afraid to stand up for her values; you’ll always know exactly where she stands. And even if you disagree with her, she’ll listen carefully to your side of the debate, and work hard to earn your respect. That’s a rare quality, and one that helps her do things other politicians couldn’t. For example, while the deep partisan divide often paralyzes Washington when it comes to health care, Tina was able to pass bipartisan legislation to help lower the cost of insulin.
With all due respect to Forum Communications, I believe it would be irresponsible and short-sighted to replace this thoughtful and decent public servant, one who has proven her ability to deliver for Minnesota, with someone who would take a far more partisan —and far less effective — approach to the job. That’s why I’m urging Minnesotans to keep Tina on the job for another six years.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale is honorary co-chair of Tina Smith for Minnesota.