The Fargo-based Forum chain, which owns the most Minnesota dailies, has thrown in with Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. Three of Forum’s biggest papers — the Fargo-Moorhead Forum, Duluth News Tribune and Bemidji Pioneer — endorsed Horner Sunday.
The Forum chain tends to endorse as a bloc — it’s too early in the morning to find out if the anointment was ordered from on high. The chain also trends conservative, endorsing Tim Pawlenty for governor in 2006, so this can be seen as a blow to Republican Tom Emmer.
Horner, steering a course between Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton, is expected to be an editorial-page favorite; the Star Tribune has been drooling over the third-party candidate for months. [Update: The Strib endorsed Horner Sunday.]
Do endorsements matter? Norm Coleman nearly ran the editorialists’ table in 2008, but after losing, he’s shoveling money to politicians rather than being one. The media nods may mean more to Horner, who hasn’t cracked 20 percent in the polls; he has less money for ads and no cash-rich groups flogging opponents.
So what did the Forum papers say?
Never before as a decision been so clear for voters. Republican Tom Emmer represents the far right wing and is a darling of the Tea Party. His ability to get anything done in a DFL-led Legislature is nil. Democrat Mark Dayton has a fine record of public service, but it is a 30-year track record of supporting the most liberal positions. …
Mr. Horner’s approach is balanced, calling for a tax plan that is progressive and not onerous to any class. …
Plans by both candidates Dayton and Emmer, especially Rep. Emmer, would drastically affect rural health care. Rep. Emmer’s health and human services cuts could close a third of rural hospitals and nursing homes.
The majority of Minnesotans — whether Republican or Democrat — fall between ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal dogmas, as does Tom Horner. He’s not anti-government, nor does he believe government is a savior. …
Emmer has taken policy positions that would further damage greater Minnesota cities and schools. Dayton’s one-note solution to, it seems, almost everything is to tax “the rich,” whom he describes as middle-class Minnesotans making $250,000. Neither man will be able to work with the other side at the Legislature.
“Only an independent will be able to get things done,” Horner said.
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. …
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.