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Gubernatorial endorsements from Greater Minnesota: a selection

Today Community Voices offers a selection of three Greater Minnesota newspapers’ editorial endorsements in the race for governor; each made a different choice. They are offered in alphabetical order; at the end you will find links to several other Minnesota newspapers’ endorsements in the race.

Albert Lea Tribune: No one deserves endorsing for gov.

Minnesota finds itself with less-than-qualified candidates for governor. Thanks to a party endorsement system and a primary system that encourages candidates on the far ends of the spectrum, the state is left with Republican Tom Emmer and Democrat Mark Dayton.

That makes Independence Party candidate Tom Horner looking like he occupies the center, but Minnesota these next four years doesn’t need another third-party candidate as its chief executive battling against a Legislature without any Independence Party legislators. Frankly, the Independence Party needs more grass-roots candidates winning to gain voter trust at higher levels.

When it comes down to it, we wish the party conventions and primary election had left Minnesota with Republican Marty Seifert and Democrat Margaret Anderson Kelliher, two moderates who understand rural and urban issues. We would have felt safe endorsing either.

In rural Minnesota, cities, counties and schools struggle with cuts to state aid. It would seem that if people favor keeping Albert Lea with a staffed fire department (not a volunteer one), then Dayton is your candidate.

However, Dayton after the primary election has stayed in much of the metropolitan areas of Minnesota. We even had a difficult time getting him to come to Albert Lea to meet this Editorial Board. This isn’t the kind of candidate who understands Greater Minnesota and issues about attracting companies to disadvantaged places. If a campaign is an example of an administration, we wonder about his leadership skills.

On the other hand, Emmer and Horner came to Albert Lea as part of their tours of rural Minnesota. They displayed the kinds of leadership skills that engage a room and sell ideas. They are likable, too.

However, Minnesota has had eight years with a Republican in the governor’s mansion and the no-new-taxes mantra has resulted in increased property taxes and cuts to roads, law enforcement, courts, schools and many essential services. There must be smarter ways to reduce government waste. Cut fat, maybe even some muscle, but not bone. If you want a volunteer fire department in Albert Lea, vote for Emmer.

As for this Editorial Board, we are not endorsing any of the three.

***

Duluth News Tribune: Tom Horner for Minnesota governor

The candidate from the far left is preaching “tax the rich” while the candidate at the extreme right appears ready to take a machete to state government.

Neither of them, not the DFL’s Mark Dayton nor Republican Tom Emmer, seems able to convince many Minnesotans their approaches would completely solve the state’s massive money malaise, a budget hole estimated as deep as $6 billion. The major-party candidates for governor are having an even tougher time selling their radical strategies as a recipe for long-term fiscal health in the state.

That’s not to say there aren’t encouraging nuggets in the approaches of Emmer and Dayton.

And that’s why Minnesotans can be relieved there’s another gubernatorial candidate, the Independence Party’s Tom Horner, vowing to mine the most promising of the ideas from the extremes of our polarized, too-partisan, political machine and combine them with the potential of his own strong plans to create actual solutions.

Horner is at the center, where most of the rest of us are.

His proven ability to build coalitions, to bring together varying viewpoints and to make tough decisions (even if, in this instance, it means serving only one term in office) are among the arguments that can convince voters to select him Nov. 2 as Minnesota’s next governor.

Our state’s immediate financial future and long-term fiscal health may just hinge on Horner.

“The Democrats won’t let the Republicans succeed. The Republicans won’t let the Democrats succeed. Minnesota is left in serious financial jeopardy that’s only getting worse,” Horner said in a meeting with the News Tribune editorial board. “It can’t just be about short-term solutions anymore. That $6 billion shortfall is a result of previous shortfalls that weren’t fixed.

“Only an independent will be able to get things done,” Horner said.

How?

The same way the Independence Party’s Jesse Ventura did when elected in 1998, by loading his cabinet with the brightest minds, the most experience and the best expertise available, regardless of political affiliation. No matter how wacky Ventura’s term in the governor’s office ended, there’s no denying the progress and the many successes of his first two years, largely because of the talented people around him.

A governor not beholden to the Democratic or Republican parties also can better engage the majority of Minnesotans, building consensus that provides leverage with Minnesota lawmakers.

“I’m happy to be the political lightning rod. I’ll take the heat so we can move Minnesota forward,” Horner said. “Most Minnesotans get it. They understand how serious the problems are.”

Horner has long been among “most Minnesotans.” He has been a small business owner since 1989 when he and a partner created a public affairs firm that focused on strategies and solutions for clients in economic development, health care, transportation, the environment, agriculture and other interests. The ability to compromise and bring people together, no matter how strongly they disagreed or didn’t like each other, was key to his business success.

Horner’s no political novice. He served as press secretary for U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, joining the Republican on his first campaign in 1978 and working with him until 1985. During that time, he met his wife, Libby, a staffer for Sens. Hubert Humphrey and Muriel Humphrey, both Democrats.

Despite their politically mixed marriage, the couple found enough common ground to produce three children, all now grown.

Horner recognizes the state’s most-pressing immediate challenge is the “need to get our financial house in order,” as he put it. His balanced approach would include “tough cuts in spending, making government work better and collaborating better.”

Horner has identified overlap and redundancies in the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development as just one example where government could be more efficient and more collaborative.

The state could be smarter, too, about buying health care coverage, Horner said. He understated — or maybe was just being polite — by calling the current system “unsustainable.”

“Clearly we can make government smaller,” he said. “We ought to, but that can’t be the only solution.”

Reducing corporate income taxes and creating more incentives for private investment would encourage job growth, Horner said.

And although the results won’t be seen for several election cycles, Horner advocates increased investment in education, from early childhood to our universities. Minnesota’s future depends on it, he said.

Because more revenue and new sources of revenue are needed to pay for a renewed attention to education and other critical initiatives, Horner supports expanding the sales tax to services and perhaps even to clothing. The sales tax is stable, he said, its revenue is easier to predict, resulting in smoother budgeting and fewer busted-budget crises. The sales tax also is more equitable, Horner argued. The wealthy tend to buy more so consequently would pay more.

And, “increasing the sales tax can be done in a way that’s sensitive to lower-income Minnesotans,” Horner said. “Absolutely.”

Fixing the budget will require a structural approach with comprehensive tax reform. As Horner points out, our state’s tax structure no longer fits our state’s demographics. Also, Minnesota has become too reliant on income taxes, which are harder to predict, resulting in unstable revenue and the massive money malaise that has become all too common.

“The next four years demand an independent-thinking governor who can take the best from both parties,” Horner said. “This is an election about jobs and economic growth. ... Minnesota is a state of tremendous opportunity with so many assets. But we get hung up on all the wrong issues, including who’s right and who’s wrong. Why can’t we be reasonable?”

This election, Dayton, the candidate from the far left, has talked of forcing the wealthy to pay more in taxes, an approach that punishes Minnesotans who work hard and achieve success. Meanwhile, Emmer, the candidate at the extreme right, touts smaller government and government cuts, an approach that victimizes the most vulnerable among us.

Neither candidate, considering how locked they are in their stances, seems likely to free Minnesota from gridlock.

Meanwhile, rather than feeling a need to build consensus with a powerful party, a Gov. Horner would be able to build consensus with Minnesotans, whether Republican, Democrat or otherwise, bringing all of us together to work toward a brighter future.

In an interview with MinnPost in April, Horner said: “Voters don’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils. ... The way forward is not to rail against government. It’s to fix Minnesota.”

Minnesotans’ best way forward is a vote on Nov. 2 for Tom Horner.

***

Mesabi Daily News: For governor, Mark Dayton -- best candidate for jobs; true champion of rural Minnesota

When the 2011 government year dawns in early January in St. Paul, Minnesota will be best served by having Mark Dayton in the governor’s office.

In a field of three good candidates, we firmly and unequivocally endorse Democrat Dayton for election on Nov. 2 over Republican Rep. Tom Emmer and Independence Party nominee Tom Horner.

We believe that Dayton is the right person for these difficult fiscal times. We believe he will lay all options on the table and then advocate for both spending cuts and some tax increases for individuals making more than income tax on individuals making more than $130,000 and couples making $150,000 a year.

That does not mean his proposals will be enthusiastically received. In fact, enthusiasm will likely be in short supply. Trying to fill a $6 billion to $7 billion projected budget shortfall is unpleasant and will make many special interest groups and individuals uncomfortable and upset.

But we find Dayton’s approach to the budget issue the most reasonable. We do not believe that the no tax increase path of Emmer makes sense in these troubled financial times. Nor do we believe that the sales tax should be applied to clothing, as Horner proposes for additional tax revenue.

Dayton’s more balanced course would be the right approach at this time to a budget dilemma that will require difficult choices.

Meanwhile, he will look for new sources of revenue — not an easy search and find these days.

And that leads to our biggest hope and belief for a Mark Dayton governorship.

The way to generate more revenue in Minnesota is with more people on the job creating more payroll and business taxes and thus more paychecks for families to circulate throughout the state’s communities.

We strongly believe that Mark Dayton will be a jobs-first governor; that he will work tirelessly for job growth in Minnesota; and that he will not just voice a “jobs” agenda during the campaign but will live it each and every day of his governorship.

And we trust that Dayton will honor his pledge to be a champion in the governor’s office for the PolyMet copper/nickel/precious metals project, to be out front working to get the venture finally up and running in 2011 once all the permit work is finalized. We also hope that Dayton will not shy from labeling certain environmental groups for what they are — extremists that could care less about jobs in Northeastern Minnesota — should they seek even more delays through court challenges once the exhausting and costly and years and years and years of environmental review are finally complete.

We also applaud the solid backing of PolyMet and other nonferrous projects on the East Range by both Emmer and Horner. It’s nice to have the support of all three major gubernatorial candidates for these initiatives. In the case of PolyMet alone, it will create 400 permanent jobs, hundreds more spin-off jobs and more than 1.5 million hours of construction work.

Candidate Dayton has said that the second year of his administration will focus like a laser beam at the regulatory process in Minnesota. It is a process that is far too cumbersome and far too lengthy and far too anti-business and anti-job. We take the candidate at his word that he will make that a campaign promise fulfilled.

On a more parochial level, rural Minnesota needs someone in their corner in the governor’s office. And we definitely believe of the three candidates, that person is clearly Mark Dayton.

He is a longtime friend of rural parts of the state in general, the Iron Range in particular. Rural Minnesotans will not have their issues and concerns fall on an uninterested ear of the person in the governor’s chair if it is occupied by Mark Dayton.

Regardless the issue, whether job creation, Local Government Aid, education, health care or others that play differently in rural Minnesota, Dayton will sincerely listen and work to help.

And his choice of Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth as a running mate shows his commitment to Minnesota’s rural area. She will be an active inside the governor’s office voice that will be of great benefit to Dayton and all Minnesotans.

We believe Mark Dayton will be a hard-working results-oriented governor. He has more than earned our endorsement.

Editorials reprinted with permission.

***

Here, in alphabetical order, are links to some other Minnesota newspapers’ gubernatorial endorsements to date:  

Bemidji Pioneer

Pioneer Press, St. Paul

Rochester Post-Bulletin

St. Cloud Times

Star Tribune, Minneapolis

New Ulm Journal

West Central Tribune, Willmar

Worthington Daily Globe

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Comments (2)

Not ONE endorsement for Emmer. An overwhelming majority of informed in MN are sick of Pawlenty type governing and are rejecting it. Emmer would be Pawlenty II. Dayton is starting CLASS warfare in MN. Dayton should be ashamed. I am sure his grandfather would be if alive today. Horner is the best choice for all MN.

In rebuttal to right wingers screaming 'class warfare' to every effort for fairness (like #1) Warrent Buffet said to his wealthy brethren, "the class war is over, and we won".”

I keep waiting to hear something other than demagoguery come from the lips of the right, and it sure hasn't happened yet.