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Independence candidate Kevin Terrell hopes his business and intelligence background will win him a seat. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Independence candidate hoping for a big upset

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Kevin Terrell, the endorsed Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate, hopes to defeat Sen. Al Franken, pulling off an upset not seen in Minnesota since Jesse Ventura won the governor’s race.

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Not that his background has much in common with Ventura; Terrell has extensive business and finance experience, and did a five-year stint as an intelligence analyst that has made him a vocal opponent of the National Security Agency spying on American citizens.

Terrell worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1988 to 1993. “The possibility of NSA being used to spy on Americans never entered anyone’s mind back then,” he said.

Analysts operated under a simple principle, Terrell added. “Without a warrant, no search – it’s that simple.”

Terrell said he has friends in the CIA today who urge him to lighten up on the issue, but it’s something he feels very strongly about.

“They want me to go easy on this,” he said. “But some things in the world are black and white – that’s black and white to me.”

An an intelligence analyst, Terrell said, he focused on Ukraine, Russia and Eastern Europe.

“A lot of the issues of the day are lining up with where I have experience,” and with his background and experience he can be trusted ‘on both sides of the table,” in the intelligence versus open government debate.

“I can be a key, trusted resource to fiercely defend your constitutional rights while understanding the details of intelligence reports about threats to our nation,” he says.

Terrell says divided, partisan government in Washington is harming the nation.

“There’s a red camp and a blue camp and everybody votes the same, there’s nobody in the middle,” he said. “Al Franken voted 99 percent of the time with the Democratic Party. Republicans are voting just the same way to the right. It’s a matter of whether you want to be smashed with a blue fist or a red fist.”

He didn’t say which party he would caucus with if elected, saying he would make that decision when the time comes.

“As an Independence Party candidate,” he said, “I don’t have a national party telling me what to think and how to vote. I can just decide what’s best for the people of Minnesota.”

If elected, he vowed to publish a daily schedule and be “very transparent about who I’m talking to, and not meet behind closed doors.”

He praised Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa as one of the few in Congress who schedules time to meet with regular constituents. “He schedules a two-hour block each day, first come, first-served,” Terrell said, promising to do the same.

He criticized Franken for not following suit.   Franken, he said, might schedule an hour to meet with 30 people at a coffee house, but “he’s doing the talking, not them. It’s a photo op for Franken.”

Some believe that a lone Independence Party senator in a Congress full of Democrats and Republicans is doomed to be marginalized.

But Terrell believes the opposite. With the Senate likely to be very closely divided, independents could well have outsized leverage. He and Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, could well be the 50th and 51st vote on major issues. “You have a lot of power there,” he said.

The Independence Party has sometimes been described as “libertarian with a small l,” he said. In general, he believes in less power for Washington and more for state and local governments.

“It’s not called the Centralized American Republic,” he said. “It’s called the United States. I don’t think rewriting the Constitution to have a central government ruling the land makes sense … Government should be of and for the people,” he said. “There’s an awful lot happening to the people right now.”

Here’s where Terrell stands on the issues, according to his website:

Economic growth and fairness

Both national parties cling to cast-in-stone positions that mirror those of their large, special interest supporters, but do little to grow income for everyday Americans.

The result has been an economic “recovery” that features unusually low investment, the worst labor force participation in over 30 years, and millions of dispirited workers without jobs.

Democratic leaders gave us the job-killing gift of Obamacare, obvious foot dragging on approving investments in the energy sector, and a host of other distractions from getting people back to work.

Meanwhile, because of an ideological commitment to “No New Taxes,” Republican leadership thinks an economy’s success is dependent upon a tax code that allows billionaire bankers to pay a much lower tax rate than their employees.

But, let’s give credit where credit is due, as the two parties have worked together on at least one common goal: making our “Too Big to Fail” banks yet larger. Because really, big banks are who needed the help in the last few years.

Fortunately, I don’t have a national party that tells me what to do, when and how. I am completely free to vote for fair and pragmatic economic policies that benefit Minnesotans the most, and not special interests. And that is exactly what I will do.

Healthcare

Nobody thinks our healthcare system in 2009 was the best it could be in terms of cost, quality and access for all.

While Obamacare was supposed to address some of these issues, it is clear that it is bad policy that is poorly implemented in a way that is inconsistent with American culture. Yet four years later we have yet to see an actual Republican alternative to it.

It’s also clear that the healthcare system in a country this big is far too complex to be managed by Washington.

It’s 2014, and there are straightforward ways to put power in the hands of the people to control costs and increase quality.

Combined with smart ways to expand access to care for all people, we can improve the quality of healthcare, lower costs and do it in a way that does not offend the sensibilities of most Americans.

Responsibility

At the end of the day, my job is to make sure your job and community are not sacrificed to appease some special interest group.

Your job? To decide what you’ll say to your grandchildren when they ask if you demanded better.

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