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Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, is a major and Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Minnesota Army National Guard. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)
Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, is a major and Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Minnesota Army National Guard. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: No form letters for this senator, please

Name: Andrew Lang

Title: Senator, District 17

Education: B.S. in aviation science management, St. Cloud State University; A.A. in pre-engineering, Ridgewater College

The fact that freshman Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, hadn’t been politically active before running for office may have been an advantage, at least in his eyes.

“The two things you never want to hear an elected official say are, ‘Trust me,’ and ‘I’ve always wanted to do this,’ Lang said. “You never vote for a guy who says, ‘I dreamed about being a politician when I was growing up,’ because that would scare the hell out of me.”

What did give Lang pause was adding the role of politician to his responsibilities as husband, father of two, county parks supervisor and a major and Black Hawk pilot in the Minnesota Army National Guard.

“I wish I could see my kids more,” Lang said.  “It’s really cut into my flying time too.”

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Say, “Hey, I’ve got an idea.” Or, “Guess what happened to me?” Or, “This law is really having an effect on me adversely.” Something like that always catches my ear.

Q. Who was the first presidential candidate you voted for and why?

A. I think I voted for Clinton in 1996. I was a junior in high school. Back then I don’t think I knew…

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. One of our local business owners in Willmar had an event with Dr. Yaron Brook, who wrote, “Fair is Unequal.” I haven’t even cracked the cover. But that’s the intention.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. That’s an easy one. These damn form letters. It’s funny the form letters come in and right after the anti-form letters. The form letters that my friends sign, I said if you wrote one hand-written letter it would mean more than those 200 form letters that for the most part are propaganda.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I’m an outdoorsman at heart. That has really taken a back burner the last year, year and a half. We have a cabin in northern Minnesota, we have a place by Park Rapids and my brother-in-law’s got a place in Wisconsin and I haven’t seen any of those places in months.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up in Willmar. I live in Olivia. If you’re in Olivia, Max’s Grill and the Back Forty both have excellent food for a small town. Max’s has always been good. The Back 40 is pretty new restaurant and they do a burger that’s honestly one of the best. I’d put it against anything down here, and that’s saying something. Willmar does a great downtown festival that’s a lot of fun. The Fourth of July in the Willmar and Spicer area is a lot of fun.

Q. What would be one way to end partisan polarization?

A. I heard from a pretty renowned Democrat — we were having a couple of beers — he said there are 67 senators here and most of us are pretty much in the same group. He also said you’ve got to realize there’s about a dozen, six on each side of the aisle, that are out there. Those are the people you have to watch out for. Those are the people whose opinions don’t matter when it comes to the Senate body as a whole. Pretty much what he was saying was beware of the fringe.

Q. Last arts or cultural event you attended?

A. I was at a Wild game several times. That would definitely be a Minnesota cultural event.

Q. Is there someone at the Capitol who you think does a lot of work without getting a lot of credit?

A. Maureen Watson [Senate Republican leadership assistant]. You want to know what’s going on around here, you ask her. She’s always got the best food, when you go to caucus. She’s the Yoda of the Senate floor.

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