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Biography Chip Cravaack

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Chip Cravaack Chip Cravaack
Chip Cravaack
Former Republican U.S. Representative for northeastern Minnesota's 8th congressional district from 2011 to 2013.


Chip Cravaack Biography

ENG: Raymond John "Chip" Cravaack (born December 29, 1959) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for northeastern Minnesota's 8th congressional district from 2011 to 2013. In his first try for political office, he upset 18-term Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar by a margin of 4,400 votes to become the first Republican since 1947 to represent the district. Previously, Cravaack was a pilot for Northwest Airlines, and before that he was a Navy pilot, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He was defeated by DFL candidate Rick Nolan on November 6, 2012.


Early life and education

Cravaack was born in Charleston, West Virginia and grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, graduating from St. Xavier High School in 1977. He was raised a Republican in a family that had a military background; his father, Ray, served in the Korean War, and his grandfather served in World War I. Cravaack graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981, receiving a bachelor of science degree.


Military service

Following graduation, Cravaack served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot, fulfilling an early ambition. While in the Navy, he earned a master's degree in education from the University of West Florida to prepare for his post-military career. After his discharge from active duty, he served in the Naval Reserve doing administrative work for an aircraft carrier and retiring in 2009 with the rank of Captain.


Northwest Airlines career

Cravaack moved to Africa and began working as a pilot for Northwest Airlines in 1990. He was out of work for two years in the early 1990s due to strikes, layoffs, and the bankruptcy of Northwest, during which time he gave flying lessons. While working as a pilot for Northwest, he was noted for his determination and goal-oriented, linear thinking.

He was a union steward for the Airline Pilots Association. He served as a "strike coordinator" during the 1998 pilots' strike, bringing military discipline and parade-ground style marching to the picket lines.

He and his family settled in Lindstrom, northeast of Minneapolis. He retired from Northwest in 2007 due to sleep apnea, receiving a $79,000 per year as medical disability pension, and becoming a stay-at-home dad for a time. In addition, Cravaack has said he drew unemployment benefits during a furlough from Northwest in the early 1990s.


U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - 2010

He was inspired to run for Congress by a suggestion from a talk radio show host that voters demand town hall meetings with their congressmen during the health care bill Tea Party movement protests of August 2009. Cravaack went with 25 people to one of Oberstar's Minnesota offices asking for a meeting that day and when Oberstar did not come, Cravaack decided to challenge him in the November 2010 election.

Cravaack entered the race as a political novice and an underdog. No Republican had been elected to the office since 1947, and Oberstar was the longest-serving Congressman in Minnesota's history, usually cruising to re‑election. Historically, northeastern Minnesota has been the most Democratic region in the entire state outside of the Twin Cities. Geography was also against Cravaack as well; his home in Lindstrom is located in Chisago County, in the southern portion of the district.

According to the Star Tribune, Cravaack's campaign was "structured like a military operation". He toured the district in a motor home dubbed "The War Wagon," and ranked volunteers with titles such as commander, captain, and precinct lieutenant. He discovered that his experience as a union steward attracted the interest of district voters, especially the miners.

Cravaack campaigned on a platform of free-market principles and government spending cuts. He attacked Oberstar's vote on the health care bill, saying he would vote to repeal and replace it, and called an Oberstar-approved extension of the Clean Water Act to include wet meadows, a "land grab" by the federal government. He criticized the earmark process that Oberstar had used to fund infrastructure projects in the district, saying it was time for the spending to stop. Cravaack also attacked Oberstar's vote on "cap and trade" legislation to limit carbon emissions, saying it would result in higher energy prices.

A candidate debate held in Duluth featured a crowd that jeered Oberstar, with Oberstar calling for a more civil atmosphere at the next debate. The second debate centered on economic issues. Cravaack argued that the 2003 Bush tax cuts should be continued on all tax brackets to stimulate employment, and Oberstar said he would end the tax cut for the top two percent of earners, because the lowered tax had caused part of the deficit.

A poll conducted for KSTP‑TV in the Twin Cities in October showed Oberstar ahead of Cravaack by only one point, 47 to 46 percent. Cravaack received the endorsement of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as the polls tightened. He was also endorsed by Minnesota's largest pro-life organization, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, and the largest newspaper in the district, the Duluth News Tribune. In the November 2 election, Cravaack scored one of the biggest upsets in Minnesota political history, defeating Oberstar by only 4,400 votes, 48 percent to 47 percent. Cravaack believed the abortion issue was crucial to his victory; he had argued that the health care legislation that Oberstar had voted for allowed for the payment of abortions with taxpayer funds, and encouraged euthanasia for the elderly. By the time he won the election, Cravaack had modified his view of the bill, saying that it was an example of socialized medicine that will result in the rationing of medical care.



Cravaack was defeated by Democratic nominee Rick Nolan, a former U.S. Representative for the 6th district.



Following his election in November 2010, Cravaack backed fellow Minnesota Representative, Michele Bachmann for the number four GOP leadership position of House Republican Conference chair.

In March 2011, Cravaack came under criticism by Duluth students and community leaders for his vote in favor of a budget bill making drastic cuts to the federal Pell Grant program that provides financial aid to college students, including 30 percent of the students at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He also came to press attention for implying during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was furthering the goals of a terrorist organization.

In March 2012 Cravaack introduced a bill in Congress that would allow mining and logging in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest through a land exchange that would bypass environmental reviews, with proceeds going to the school districts.

He also sponsored a bill, which became law that the TSA ensures that military personnel were treated with respect while traveling on orders or while wearing their uniforms. “The bill’s intent, he said, is that the military personnel would be able to go through security with the same ease as registered flyers.”

He is against sequestration and voted against the Budget Control Act, stating “You cut with a scalpel not a meat ax."

Cravaak ran for 2012 reelection and was endorsed by Mesabi Daily News in Virginia and Duluth News Tribune.

In the elections held on November 6, 2012 Cravaak was defeated for reelection by 9 points by Democrat Rick Nolan.


Personal life

Cravaack is married and is the father of two boys. His wife works for a pharmaceutical company, but does not do any lobbying in Washington, D.C. His wife and children live in New Hampshire,which Cravaack said is attributed to his son’s autistic condition and to be closer to take care of his family while he was in Washington, although he continues to reside in Minnesota.





January 15, 2012

icon Chip Cravaack
icon Chip Cravaack

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