Oct 22, 2013 at 10:14 am
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - For teacher and political scientist Dr. Jim Read, the "tipping point", pushing him toward a run for public office, was the federal government shutdown.
The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University professor and Avon resident tossed his hat into the ring last week as a democratic candidate for the 6th District congressional seat, replacing retiring Republican Michele Bachmann.
Professionally, Read has been teaching in the Political Science Department at St. Ben's and St. John's since 1988.
Politically, he is a vocal opponent of the tea party faction in the U.S. House. He tells KNSI News he was motivated to run for the office by what he calls "irresponsible politics."
"I'm familiar with party politics, and this is anything but ordinary party politics," he explains. "This is really high-stakes, all-or-nothing politics, with many millions of people caught in the middle. I think that was an illegitimate tactic to use. It was disturbing and reckless, and I asked, am I going to sit on the sidelines or am I going to do something?"
Read isn't new to campaigning; he ran for a state House seat in 1992, losing by 98 votes.
While Read is running on the democratic ticket, he says it's crucial for politicians to buck party lines in favor of responsible voting.
"I'm in record, in print, criticizing the Obama administration for the NSA surveillance, for continuing much of what the Bush administration did, with troubling, unregulated national agency surveillance," Read says. "I think what you want to do is show you're not a party robot. You understand there are good people on both sides, and both sides can do things that are wrong or mistaken. I think that builds trust and helps people get beyond party labels."
As for his students, Read says it was exciting to announce his campaign on the heels of classroom discussions on the federal government shutdown. He adds, as a professor, he's aware that he needs to keep his academic and political lives apart.
"You have to separate your roles," he says. "In teaching a class, you're open at all points of view. As a candidate, you have to take a stance. The students in my class can support me, they can support an opponent. But at the same time, I can describe to them some of what it's like to go through this."
Read faces Circle Pines activist Judy Adams for the DFL nod, and possibly Sartell Mayor Joe Perske, who hasn't officially declared his intentions.
Former state Reps. Phil Krinkie and Tom Emmer, Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah and state Sen. John Pederson are among Republicans running for the seat.
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