Republican Kendall Qualls, a former U.S. Army Captain and businessman from Medina, filed his paperwork to run against Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) on Tuesday. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, of which Phillips is a member, immediately began smearing Qualls, claiming he couldn’t “say why he’s running for Congress.”
Since Tuesday, the DFL has already released three statements attacking Qualls. In a Thursday statement, the DFL claimed that Qualls “refused to answer all questions on his campaign and directed the press to ask his political consultant, Gregg Peppin, instead.”
However, the only evidence the DFL provides to show that Qualls is refusing “to answer all questions” is a link to one Star Tribune article.
“Qualls declined to comment when reached by phone by the Star Tribune, saying he is referring all inquiries to his political consultant. The consultant did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” the outlet reported Tuesday, the same day Qualls filed for candidacy.
The DFL then announced that it had sent Peppin, Qualls’ consultant, the “paperwork necessary to run for Congress himself.”
“If Qualls is just going to be a mouthpiece for political consultant Gregg Peppin, perhaps Gregg Peppin should be the one running for Congress. To facilitate this, the Minnesota DFL has sent political consultant Peppin the paperwork needed to declare a run for Congress,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said.
In a letter to Peppin, Martin wrote that a “candidate who cannot even explain why he wants to represent Minnesotans in Congress, and instead asks his political consultant to explain that for him, falls far short of those expectations.”
“Mr. Peppin, if you will be the one explaining to Minnesotans who Kendall Qualls is, what he stands for, and why he deserves the honor of representing our state in Congress, perhaps it should be your name on the ballot instead of his,” Martin continued.
On Tuesday, the DFL released its first of three statements and demanded to know if Qualls will “meaningfully stand up to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and destructive policies, or if he’ll serve as just another Republican rubber stamp for Donald Trump.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Qualls currently serves as the chief commercial officer for a medical-technology company and has worked in various leadership roles in the industry. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
From 1985 to 1990, he served in the U.S. and South Korea as a captain in the U.S. Army, his bio states.
The Phillips campaign told the Star Tribune that it welcomes “Mr. Qualls to Minnesota and to the race for Congress in Minnesota’s Third District.”
“Everyone’s invited to this conversation and we look forward to each candidate sharing their views,” his campaign said.
Phillips defeated incumbent Erik Paulsen in the 2018 election in a vote of 55 percent to 44 percent. Minnesota’s Third Congressional District is reportedly one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s top targets for the 2020 election.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kendall Qualls” by Kendall Qualls.