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Corinna Robinson, a candidate for U.S. House of Represetatives, talks with a reporter Wednesday at The Daily Republic in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

Democratic House hopeful calls government shutdown embarrassing

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Corinna Robinson said last year’s federal government shutdown was an embarrassing time for the country.

Robinson, a Rapid City native and Democrat, is launching her campaign this week for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House, which is occupied by Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican. Robinson said one of her top priorities if elected will be “to get past the partisan politics.”

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“To shut down the government, that had major effects,” she said Wednesday during her stop at The Daily Republic’s office. “We have to get back to working together. I’m definitely going to be a very active person in trying to get people to work together.”

Robinson, 49, first announced her bid to run in October, which was when the federal government shut down for 16 days. It was a stand-off between Republicans and the White House over funding the government and forced the temporary lay-off of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

Robinson joined the Army at age 17 after graduating from high school and then spent 25 years in the military, including two stints in Iraq. She said her career in the Army will help her to put aside partisanship and work together.

“I think the 25 years I spent in the military was definitely a good training ground,” she said. “They have a very methodical process in establishing priorities. You can’t do everything well, so you pick out what are the most important things you have to do.

“Right now, there seems to be disparity where the parties don’t feel the need to come together to find resolution.”

Robinson said Noem has not been present enough in committee hearings, such as the Agricultural Committee, on which she sits.

But Robinson added she’s glad to see a new five-year farm bill is likely to be passed soon. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in farm subsidies and nutrition programs. The Senate will vote on the bill later this week.

“I would question folks who served on the Agricultural Committee, not just Rep. Noem, but how did we even let it expire?” she said. “Where did we fall short? It all falls back to the priorities.”

Robinson retired from the Army in 2009 but then took a job with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. She also has served as the vice president for the Department of Defense Senior Professional Women’s Association.

She knows running as a Democrat in what is a “very pro-Republican state” will be difficult, she said.

“The years I spent with the Department of Defense, it never really mattered what party you were affiliated with, what religion or what ethnicity. It was, ‘What’s at stake, and how do we get the problem solved?’

“If you’re the sole representative of South Dakota, you have to pay attention to what’s important up here at home. If that means you have to come home less frequently or rattle a few chains to talk to the right people, I would definitely be one to be present and open-minded.”

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