Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

MinnPost logo 2014 Summer Member Drive

Readers like you make MinnPost possible
Become a sustaining member today

Horner campaign describes its path to victory

The Tom Horner campaign has put out an email to supporters describing Horner's path to victory. It's even titled "The Path."

I'll append the full text of it below. It needs to be taken as pure campaign propaganda like any other ad or flyer put out by a campaign or a speech by the candidate. Horner knows that one of his most vital tasks, especially with polls continuing to show him running a fairly distant third, is to reassure supporters and potential supporters that there is a path to victory. In the case of this email, he is essentially arguing that his Republican opponent, state Rep. Tom Emmer, is the one who has no path to victory.

The implications of the email are consistent with the last conversation I had with Horner about how he hoped to break through.

The interesting thing to me is that Horner told me (and the email supports this angle) that the key moment for him will come when Republicans decide that Emmer can't win, and then Horner becomes the only vehicle by which the center and right of the electorate can prevent Mark Dayton from becoming governor.

I don't have a quote to that effect. We were just chatting after a debate in which I had spent the last embarrassing minutes on my hands and knees looking for my cell phone. (I had left it in the car.) So I wasn't taking notes. But as I walked away, it struck me as a shift from the conventional wisdom that Horner's only path was to form a broad coalition of voters who felt Dayton was too far left, Emmer was too far right and who bought the Horner pitch that all kinds of great policies were sitting in the middle of the spectrum.

I'm skeptical, for several reasons. One is that a lot of members of Emmer's base cannot consider Horner because of his positions on abortion and gay rights, and others consider him a traitor to what has become the fundamental Republican cause of No New Taxes.

But it's possible that Horner sincerely believes that this is his path, which might help explain why Horner and Emmer have been arguing with each other more during recent debates than either of them has been arguing with Dayton.

The email also claims — based on the results of an internal, unpublished Horner poll the details or even existence of which I have not verified — that Dayton, not Emmer, is the second choice of most current Horner supporters. If true — and this may be one of the subtle arguments the email is making to Republicans — then Emmer can't win by driving voters away from Horner.

(Of course, Emmer is trying to drive away from Horner only those voters whose second choice would be Emmer. He does that by arguing that since Dayton and Emmer both propose new taxes, they represent the same alternative and only he, Emmer, is a choice for no-new-taxers. Dayton likewise, and especially his allies in the DFL, try to frame the llineup as a choice between one Democrat and two pro-business Republicans.)

Enough. Here's the text of the email:

"Dear Horner Volunteers:

In recent weeks our campaign paid to commission a carefully researched poll of the true Minnesota electorate. What we found encouraged us. September polling had universally shown our campaign gaining momentum as the other candidates stagnated or began to fall back. We wanted to learn more.

Different polls use different methodologies, and all must be taken in stride. As all candidates acknowledge, and as Minnesota gubernatorial history suggests, even polling two weeks out from the election has been an unreliable predictor in an unpredictable state.

But what we found encouraged our staff. Nineteen percent of likely voters already supported Horner to 38 percent for DFLer Mark Dayton and 27 percent for GOP candidate Tom Emmer. Fifteen percent of Minnesotans remained undecided. Given the bases each candidate entered the race with, we were pleased with the momentum. However, the next round of questioning also showed a clear path forward. An extremely high number of Dayton supporters and a significant share of Emmer supporters were willing to support Horner instead. Enough to win in November.

More than 40 percent of Dayton’s supporters were not wedded to their candidate, with the vast majority of those voters already indicating they would move to Horner. While none of Rep. Emmer’s support indicated it would be willing to vote Dayton, many would be willing to vote for Horner. It is why you have seen or heard two important things in the last week. First, liberal independent groups supporting Mark Dayton are now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to smear Tom Horner. Second, Rep. Emmer’s own campaign manager told MPR’s Cathy Wurzer that in the end it would be a tight three-person race.

There are also Horner supporters worried about wasting their vote. They too would consider another candidate. But contrary to the fearful narrative being put forth by the Republican party, those supporters would not help the GOP defeat Mark Dayton. Those Horner supporters, our polling found, would break to Dayton by more than a two-to-one ratio. The Star Tribune also found that more votes would break to Dayton than Emmer.

Our poll showed what we suspected. Either Dayton wins or Horner wins. Rep. Emmer has not been able to hold on to Republicans, has not been able to win over independents, and is simply not an electable statewide candidate.

We see a glimpse of that in House District 32B, just highlighted by Republican analyst Scott Johnson at Powerline. It showed Tom Emmer running far behind where his Republican predecessors have previously polled in the heavily Republican district. Too far behind to indicate success.

It is the reason why Rep. Emmer, confronted with similarly sophisticated polling, has spent the last two weeks rallying his base across the state while declining to participate in important and substantive forums with the Alexandria Economic Development Commission, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the League of Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Ready 4 K and St. Catherine University. They are not the base he has run back to. Rep. Emmer is speaking to the base that will indeed vote for him. It is a base comprised of Palin-Bachmann Republicans and not the broad audience of Minnesotans that can move our state forward. How can we expect the standard bearer of a party to lead our state if he refuses to acknowledge that his party’s chair was wrong to condemn an opponent’s supporters to hell?

When Minnesotans go to the polls on November 2, there will be three fine men on the ballot. But the vast majority of those voters will be choosing between two of them. I am confident that they will find Tom Horner, and not Mark Dayton, best equipped to lead Minnesota during these next four years. Over the next two weeks you will hear from a broad cross section of Minnesotans who will publicly say the same thing."

The last paragraph of the email is a solicitation for funds and support that wouldn't be appropriate to publish here. The email is signed by Horner's campaign manager, Stephen Imholte

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Comments (18)

That kinda reeks of desperation, doesn't it? I have a hard time believing a Republican would get less than 35 percent of the vote.

I cannot in good conscience skip the election, or write in "none of the above," so I have to vote for someone. I'm not thrilled with Dayton, and while I have no objection to insisting that the wealthy pay at least the same tax rate that I do, I genuinely abhor the very concept of raising basic, fungible revenue for the state through gambling.

The more I read and listen, the more I think Tom Emmer is a decent guy, but he espouses policies up and down the line that I'm opposed to, and some of his positions put him, as far as I'm concerned, beyond the electoral pale. I wouldn't vote for him for Governor no matter who the opponent was.

Horner ought to appeal to me. I'm not a party loyalist, and while I'm socially liberal, I've learned to be a fiscal conservative, at least in the sense that, whatever programs government at any level proposes to carry out, they need to be paid for. In Congress - where the idea seldom avoids an ugly death in each session – it's been called "Pay-Go." Horner comes closest to that ideal.

But in the current political and social climate, I simply don't trust anyone who's "pro-business" to provide any protection at all for my ordinary-citizen, unwealthy, non-corporate interests. Corporations are not only NOT persons, they're the antithesis of democracy. The fact that they're going to a lot of trouble to try to keep anonymous their contributions to various political campaigns around the country simply makes them even more suspect. Corporate interests are NOT synonymous with what's good for the state or the country as a whole, and if nothing else, Horner has made plain that he's "pro-business," even if he's less the right-wing ideologue than Emmer.

At the moment, Emmer is a definite "No." Horner is a probable "No." Dayton is a reluctant and unenthusiastic probable "Yes." In other races that affect me directly, the choice(s) seem more straightforward, and to a degree, easier.

So a former republican who is well left of republicans on gays, guns, abortion and taxes - who is currently doing better attracting Dem leaning voters (Dayton as 2nd choicers) will somehow gain the support of right leaning voters when the one guy in the race that reflects his values tanks...

I have a better theory. Most DFLers know Dayton is nuts and a proven embarrassment who had to be talked out of running for senate to prevent a safe GOP pick up. They see Tom Horner as a guy who will do pretty much the same thing as Dayton, but if the economy sours or things go bad, DFLers avoid the blame while protecting all of their government funded sacred cows - whereas with Gov. Dayton, the party's prospects will mirror those of Dayton's relapses into alcoholism and depression.

Ergo, with the Star-Tribune editorial board in the lead, 'sophisticated' DFLers are waging a second primary against Dayton and hoping Emmer doesn't eclipse their second bite at dumping Dayton.

Eric has it pretty well sussed out.

Emmer's problem is that a vote for Horner is actually a vote for Dayton, because it comes out of Emmer's hide.

I could never understand why the GOP was thinking that Horner would attract Democrats, for cripe's sake. He was on Almanac for years as a GOP spokesman and his plans to raise taxes on the middle and lower classes - via sales tax increase - are political suicide.

If Horner, or Marty Seifert, were running as the GOP candidate, they would probably blow Dayton out of the water. But those red-meat eating neo-cons just couldn't resist rubbing the moderates nose in it... You made your bed, sleep in it.

"I could never understand why the GOP was thinking that Horner would attract Democrats, for cripe's sake."

Well, commenter, meet me. I have voted mainly for Democrats since my first visit to the ballot box. And I'm supporting Tom Horner because he offers a platform for Minnesota's recovery and future that respects my intelligence, not insults it. This is going to be hard and Horner is not trying to sell us "magic solutions" that sound like the something involving wands in a classroom at Hogwarts. And while the DFL candidate might be a nice guy, which is what I hear again and again from supporters, I'm as uninspired by his platform as I am his potential for leadership in the rocky times that await.

"Corporations are not only NOT persons, they're the antithesis of democracy."

I don't want corporations to be all-powerful, either. I understand. But I also want Minnesota to be, as Horner puts it, "the knowledge state."

Did you know that the pulse oximeters that monitored the Chilean miners' vital signs were designed AND manufactured in Minnesota by a homegrown company? They used Bluetooth technology to equip the physicians waiting above with essential monitoring data. Not even conceivable a mere 10 or 20 years ago. We need more companies like that and Horner is the guy to encourage those kinds of brainpower companies that will provide our future jobs. If that makes me "pro-business," so be it ... whatever.

"The fact that they're going to a lot of trouble to try to keep anonymous their contributions to various political campaigns around the country simply makes them even more suspect."

You are 100 percent right. The same applies to PACs that originate with union money. Fortunately, Tom Horner has refused to accept PAC money and is relying upon ordinary Minnesotans for donations. Like me.

You'll note, Allison, that I pointed out that Horner would have been a much better candidate than Emmer as a Republican.

I'm sorry, but the number of dems, such as you, going for Horner is a lot smaller than the number of repubs and there appears to be pretty good data to back this up.

And you neatly side-stepped my point about the unattractiveness of Horner's taxation policy.

As far as new business development, I am a little disappointed in Dayton's efforts in this area so far.

Since Horner has been in the service of many - unspecified - businesses during his career, he is in a position to talk a good game.

Emmer's suggestions in this area are nonsense - the old trickle down theory. Somehow cutting business taxes is going to magically turn into new jobs, rather than the recipients of such largess just pocketing the lucre?

I don't buy the "wasted vote" theory.

Given that only one of the three candidates will win, and the last three gubernatorial elections have been won with a plurality of votes, its a safe prediction to suggest that the majority this year will vote for a loser. Perhaps the blame should be pointed at the DFLers who keep picking weak candidates?

We have one candidate who feels we can contract our way to growth. And another who wants to tax the rich which is misleading. Because it might convince the mass of non-millionaires that Minnesota can solve its budget problems by soaking the rich.

Tom Horner's policy is what sells most folks. The efficiency benefits of consumption-oriented taxes especially those focused on negative externalities such as tobacco and alcohol. I also agree with Horner's policy to include broad-based taxes and budget cuts as part of a budget balancing process.

From a political perspective, as Rob Levine notes at the outset of the comments section, the Horner campaign's argument is a longshot. With Dayton at 38, Horner needs 39 which means 1) winning all the undecideds (15 pts) and 2) taking away 5 of the 27 points that Emmer has. I don't see Emmer's floor as being lower than 27, particularly in a year when the no-taxes/no-government movement is riled up and expecting big wins.

What I expect to happen is the unenthused Dem voters come home to Dayton. The Kelliher supporters may still be ticked off at the primary results, but they've had enough of Pawlentyism to know that however reluctant they are to vote for Dayton, he's far, far preferable to Emmer. A lot of DFL noses will be held on Nov 2nd, and Dayton wins. What will be interesting to see is whether Horner can stay as strong as he is & keep Emmer's results at the embarrassing levels where he's polling now.

@ Bill Gleason ... not sidestepping anyone -- just not up for a 12,000-word point-by-point treatise. Richard Schulze has aptly summarized my views on Horner's taxation platform. His sales tax proposals make sense and, despite the obligatory shrieks of class warfare coming from those who don't agree, I find it very fair and a more realistic way to guide the state forward. Cheers.

Its good to see that Horner is still at least going through the motions. If his support totally evaporates the last two weeks, the election could go either way (Dayton or Emmer, that is).

Allison, it says a lot about that your so-called Democratic credentials (and your credibility) that you describe supporting a progressive tax plan over Horner's regressive plan "obligatory shrieks of class warfare."

You know, I'm not much for "you know what" matches and one of the things I truly value about MinnPost is the -- usually -- cordial discourse in its comments board. I think that has a lot to do with MinnPost's wise policy about using one's own name when posting and not some moniker behind which the poster can hide with convenient anonymity.

But you know what, Dan? You just ticked me off. You have neither the right to call me a "so-called" nor to call my credibility into question.

I don't know you and I don't know how much time you've put in for candidates over the years. I know I can vouch for the hours I've put in (granted more when I lived in my native in Wisconsin than in Minnesota, thanks to work).

So here you go, Dan. Here's a list (not close to exhaustive) of the Dems for whom I've door-knocked, phone-called, letter-written, fund-raised, booth-staffed and given money:

Wisconsin: President BIll Clinton; U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold; U.S. Rep. Ron Kind; State Sens. Russ Decker, Alice Clausing and Rod Moen; State Reps. Joe Plouff, Joe Hisrich, Barbara Gronemus, Bob Dueholm and candidates Sue Miller, Rosemary Potter and Colleen Bates. (I also volunteered for U.S. Rep Steve Gunderson, (R-3rd District) when I believed that his 100 percent anti-choice opponent wasn't good for the district.)

Minnesota: President Barack Obama; presidential candidate John Kerry; U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone; U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar; U.S. Sen. Al Franken. (I also voted repeatedly for U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, R, when I lived in his district because I believed he was a fine public servant.)

I have put on more miles, spent more time on phones, written more checks than I care to remember, written more support letters, hung more signs than I can even calculate.

Don't you dare.

Oh, and I just realized I left one off the list (very inadvertently): United States Senator Paul Wellstone.

Never mind. I did remember Wellstone in the earlier posting.

You can't have bi-partisanship if you vote uni-party.

In my experience, "independent" is definitely the best party affiliation. I enjoy all the rights of a partisan, but none of the responsibilities. Is there anything to like about being a Republican or a Democrat? ;^)

"despite the obligatory shrieks of class warfare coming from those who don't agree."

Sorry Allison, but when someone uses the language of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck to mock one of the basic tenets (progressive taxation) of the Democratic party, I will dare to question your Democratic credentials.

You are certainly free to support the hopeless campaign of a Republican running as a third-party candidate. And you are certainly free to use right wing talking points to criticize Democratic candidates. But doing those things while holding yourself out as a Democrat (as you did in response to Mr. Gleason's question) is just flat out dishonest.

Save your righteous indignation. I stand by my comment.

The fundamental issue here is this: We've run out of other people's taxes to raise. We're going to raise yours - whoever you are.

@Dan Hintz's comments to Allison Sandve are exactly why the DFL in this state keeps shooting itself in the foot. Dare to have a different idea from the "true believers" and you get sneered at. I think you're going to find it getting increasingly lonely in your pup tent, Dan.
Bring on the ranked choice voting.

John, my problem with Allison's comments is not about daring to have different ideas, but in her using right-wing talking points to mock the ideas of other Democrats. She is the one doing the sneering here, not me. If she had made her points in a reasonable and civil manner, I would not have questioned her. My issue was the fact that she lowered the level of discourse to that of Limbaugh and Beck, and still called herself a Democrat.

The DFL does need to have a big tent, and probably bigger than it is now. That big tent, however, does not need to include people who smear Democrats while supporting candidates from other parties.