Jeremy Munson is a Republican throwback.
“I’m running because I’m sick of government overreach and reckless spending, and I want limited government,” Munson told the Washington Examiner in a telephone interview between campaign stops in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District.
His traditionally conservative priorities might not have merited a mention 10 years ago. But in an era when conservative populism has been ascendant, it’s somewhat newsworthy when a Republican candidate does not immediately blurt out “former President Donald Trump” and “America first” to prove his bona fides to GOP voters.
“I’m running to be a strong voice for limited government,” Munson added, just in case his philosophical proclivities were unclear the first time.
Munson, 46, is running in the special election to fill the vacant southern Minnesota House seat, with the primary set for May 24 and the general scheduled for Aug. 9. The contest was triggered by the February death of Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died after a bout with cancer. The married father of two daughters, 11 and 14, is a business consultant by trade and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
If Republicans traditionally talked a good game on reducing the size and scope of the federal government only to fail to deliver, the GOP in the Trump era bothered less to talk the talk. The 45th president, who proudly called himself “the king of debt,” was not driven to slash federal spending or shrink the government, and the party’s policy priorities reflected as much. So did Republican candidates for office and how they discussed the issues that matter to them.
And given Trump’s popularity with Republican primary voters, they tend to brand their agenda by invoking the former president by name and using his preferred slogan: America first. Munson went a different direction, saying that if elected, he would review every government program, including entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, to look for ways to reduce their funding, if not eliminate them altogether. Munson did not in any way suggest that he would support junking these three popular entitlements but did confirm that he is open to reforms that would bring annual spending on these programs under control.
“We need a balanced budget, and we shouldn’t be adding to our debt every year,” he said. “We need to go after every possibility for reducing spending that we can.” The other priority Munson referenced, repeatedly, was improving “transparency” in government, which he described as “involving people in the legislative process.”
Meanwhile, to the extent that support for, or from, Trump becomes an issue in the special election, Munson’s cupboard isn’t bare.
He has been endorsed by three top members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, at least two of whom are closely aligned with the former president: Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who is the Freedom Caucus chairman.
Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky also is backing Munson. With several Republicans running in the GOP-leaning district, these endorsements could prove crucial to Munson’s prospects.