As most of you know, Sean Duffy held a town hall this morning at Ready Randy’s restaurant south of New Richmond in St. Croix County. Most of us didn’t know about it until last night. Even the email announcement circulated by the St. Croix Republicans chair didn’t go out until yesterday. The event was not noticed on Duffy’s website. Nor were any of the people who asked to be informed of upcoming town halls given any advance notice.
The event was scheduled to start at 10. We arrived shortly after 8:30 and were allowed in to a foyer. Eventually we were requested to register, given slips to fill out if we wanted to ask a question, and allowed to enter the meeting room, which slowly filled to capacity. There were 250 people there, tops. Judging by the applause, the crowd was about evenly split between Duffy supporters and opponents.
Duffy started at 10 and ended at 11. He was his usual charming and engaging self, admonishing us at the outset to be civil. Which we mostly were. Emcee John Murtha read the names of people who were next in line to ask questions, which were then answered in some fashion by Rep. Duffy. Like a good politician he did his best to dodge the tough questions, like whether he supported Trump’s wall. (He does.) He assured the crowd that he supports Social Security and that the two fixes he thinks might be most viable are raising the income cap for contributions or limiting payments to people who don’t need the income.
He was asked about the Affordable Care Act, which he claimed Republicans have been trying to fix for the last eight years; income disparity, which he wants to fix by lowering corporate income taxes(?); private school voucher programs, which he supports because why should only rich people get to send their kids to private school; and small family farmers, who he wants to help by getting rid of the government’s “boot on their neck”.
It isn’t clear to me who benefited from this event and how. Duffy can now add another town hall to his list. (He said the good turnout proved that it was well advertised.) He repeated his standard talking points and got applause from his base while dodging the more difficult subjects. He did hear some views in opposition to his own, but I didn’t get the sense that his thinking was changed on anything. Not even close.
One of the more pointed questions was about the need for a full and complete investigation of Trump’s ties with Russia, both pre- and post-election. These concerns Duffy dismissed saying he hasn’t seen evidence of any criminal wrongdoing. And he didn’t sound at all interested in looking for it.