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A sampling of endorsements in Minnesota’s DFL gubernatorial primary race

Today we offer an assortment of three Minnesota newspaper endorsements — from the Mesabi Daily News, the Minnesota Daily and ECM newspapers — in the DFL primary’s gubernatorial contest. The editorials are reprinted verbatim.

The following editorial was published July 31 by the Mesabi Daily News:

We endorse: In DFL primary, Mark Dayton

In a three-candidate race for the DFL gubernatorial nomination we strongly endorse former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton in the Aug. 10 primary. Our endorsement at this time is solely for the DFL primary.

We do so with high hopes that of the three people seeking to carry the DFL banner into the Nov. 2 general election, Dayton would be a jobs-first governor should he eventually win that office.

We firmly believe Issue No. 1 in the governor’s race is Jobs. Issue No. 2 is Jobs. Issue No. 3 is Jobs, etc.

Funding to fulfill promises and hopes for other issues ranging from education to health care to aid to cities relies heavily on revenues from jobs. When people aren’t working, money flows from government for unemployment checks and other benefits. When jobs are created, more tax revenue flows from the workplace to government. Without jobs, all the other political hopes and dreams are nothing more than wishful thinking.

Of the three DFL candidates — Dayton, former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza and party-endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher — in the primary it is Dayton who spent time in an administration of a governor who had job creation as the top priority. Iron Ranger and former Gov. Rudy Perpich understood that a governor can make a big difference in helping to locate and create jobs in the state.

That didn’t mean that all attempts would succeed. But Perpich did a lot of knocking on doors of CEOs and also dared to take non-traditional job-creation steps.

Remember when he was called “Governor Goofy” for his Mall of America proposal? We don’t think any of the thousands and thousands and thousands of permanent workers at the Bloomington retail mega-mall or those who have worked construction on the facility see anything “goofy” about the former governor’s vision that is now a remarkable reality.

We believe Dayton when he says he will be a tireless worker as governor for jobs in Minnesota in the mold of his former governor/boss.

We know his opponents in the primary also talk about being a jobs governor. And we certainly hope that if either one of them wins the primary and then the general election those words will be backed up by actions in the governor’s office.

But why then did they vote against the Mesabi Nugget project in 2005 in the state House of Representatives at a time when we were in a touch-and-go battle with Indiana for the plant. Their votes on what was a simple technical change on a piece of legislation they had both voted yes on the year before were anti-jobs votes, anti-Iron Range votes. There is just absolutely not good or sensible reason for those votes when so many jobs were at stake.

That plant is now up and running, producing iron nuggets and paychecks and state revenues — and it’s doing so no thanks to either Kelliher or Entenza. However, Dayton’s running mate — Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon — voted yes in the Senate in both 2004 and 2005 for the Mesabi Nugget bills.

Mark Dayton has been a longtime loyal and compassionate friend of the Iron Range. That loyalty and his advocacy for jobs for the Iron Range and the entire state have earned our hearty endorsement in the DFL primary.


The following editorial appeared Aug. 4 in the Minnesota Daily.

Kelliher for DFL ticket: In politics and policy, Margaret Anderson Kelliher is best for the DFL

Minnesotans go to the polls Tuesday to choose who will compete for the governorship. DFLers trying to win a governor’s race for the first time since most students were born face a three-way choice between some of the more experienced politicians in the race. Yet they must nominate the candidate with the ideas necessary to pull the state out of its upcoming $6 billion budget deficit. That candidate is Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Since funding determines the level of services the state can provide — education, health care, safety — any candidate who wants to make changes in these areas must be able to find a way to pay for them. The key question for the upcoming DFL primary is simple: Who among the candidates has a solid plan for the state of Minnesota and the political acumen to implement it?

The Editorial Board interviewed every candidate and we think Kelliher has the smartest approach to filling the $6 billion budget gap. In the new budget cycle, she plans to cover the shortfall through 40 percent revenue increases, 30 percent spending cuts and 30 percent in spending shifts. Mark Dayton’s budget plan relies largely on 80 percent revenue from taxes on those making more than $130,000 a year and 20 percent budget cuts. He did not say where the other 20 percent needed to reach $6 billion would come from, and it’s unrealistic to think these increases would pass in the Legislature.

Dayton is the most liberal of the three, and his political record and lack of experience in the statehouse damage his electability. Whether Time magazine’s unfortunate 2006 label of him as one of the five worst U.S. senators has merit matters less than how he explains to voters that it does not. What he told us was that he was one of the only senators to vote against the Iraq war. Minnesota needs a candidate experienced in the complexities of balancing the state budget — and rallying the support to do so. Dayton hasn’t even taken that test here.

We found Kelliher’s ideas for the University to be veritably fresh. She sees the University as an engine for growth, but she acknowledged that professors here still actually need to teach. Hence, Kelliher, who has children about to attend college, said she would fight for increased support of public instructional costs. “Unless you’re supporting public instructional costs, you’re not going to be able to shave back that tuition,” she told us.

Like the other two candidates, she called for tuition increases here to remain at the rate of inflation. Kelliher also said she wants to put pressure on central offices at the University and state college system to cut administrative costs, a reform needed here at the University.

We do like Matt Entenza, the former DFL House minority leader whose campaign centerpiece is education. His call for abandoning a failed policy, No Child Left Behind, is admirable. But Minnesota would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education money by withdrawing from the law. That would cripple a state already facing billions of dollars in repayments to schools. Kelliher would push Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation for reform of No Child Left Behind.

Entenza, a sharp policy wonk who founded the smart liberal thinktank Minnesota 2020, does not differ much from Kelliher in policy. Yet his campaign conduct does. The decision to select former Fox 9 news anchor Robyne Robinson — who has no political experience — as his lieutenant governor contrasts sharply with Kelliher’s pick of John Gunyou, a former finance commissioner. Entenza is also the only candidate on the DFL side who refused to release a detailed financial disclosure statement. He told us that he followed all of Minnesota’s campaign disclosure requirements, but those requirements are some of the weakest in the nation. We want a governor who values, in action and not rhetoric, transparency, especially about him or herself.

Kelliher did release a detailed financial disclosure statement, but there wasn’t much there to find: She is, by a long shot, the least wealthy candidate on the DFL side. Her humble and hardworking life story is sure to connect with voters — she grew up in a farming family in southern Minnesota — and we hope she has a chance to tell it in the general election.

For a complete look at the information from the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, see this spreadsheet with all the self-reported University of Minnesota donors.


The following editorial by the ECM Editorial Board appeared in ECM newspapers. ECM operates 15 weekly papers throughout Minnesota.

Anderson Kelliher merits nod in deep DFL primary field

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s eight years in office have given voters ample time to compare his no-new-taxes version of government with the more progressive model that had prevailed for decades.

November’s gubernatorial election again presents clashing philosophies.

On the Democrat-Farmer-Labor side, Margaret Anderson Kelliher is the best candidate to make her party’s case in a robust contest with Republican endorsee Tom Emmer and Independence Party endorsee Tom Horner.

Anderson Kelliher, a 12-year veteran of the state House of Representatives, was elected speaker in 2007. She faces former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, also a former state auditor, and former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza in an Aug. 10 primary.

On most issues, the candidates’ positions are similar.

The new governor’s first job will be mending an unprecedented $5.8 billion hole in the state budget. Anderson-Kelliher and Entenza propose similar approaches that include spending cuts, tax hikes and continued delays in aid payments to school districts.

Both propose higher income taxes for households making more than $250,000 a year. They’re right to use the income tax to begin to reverse regressivity that has crept into Minnesota’s state and local tax structure during the Pawlenty years.

Dayton’s approach — raising more revenue than either of his DFL opponents by hiking income taxes on a broader swath of “high-income” earners — may have gut-level appeal for some DFL primary voters. It’s too divisive to carry into a general election and the 2011 legislative session.

Anderson Kelliher’s choice of John Gunyou as her lieutenant governor running mate inspires confidence in her intellectual and political flexibility. Gunyou (a former state finance commissioner under Republican Gov. Arne Carlson. The current Minnetonka city manager is expert on state finance and revenue and a well-known scold on “solutions” that trade long-term stability for expediency.

The Anderson Kelliher/Gunyou team offers the best chance for an evolving model of state finance that will become more fair and less vulnerable to unsettling revenue swings.

Anderson Kelliher was the chief architect of a gasoline-tax increase that will raise more than $6 billion for badly needed road and bridge projects. She held together a coalition, including several Republicans, that delivered the only veto override Pawlenty has suffered in office.

She represents a new generation of DFL leadership, one less prone to inter-caucus “bullying and yelling,” in her words, and more willing to try velvet persuasion.

The daughter of rural Minnesota dairy farmers, Anderson Kelliher is visionary in many respects — such as her call for a government official to oversee services for a growing population of elderly — but some of her ideas need work.

In an interview with the ECM Editorial Board, she gave an incomplete response to a question about Minnesota’s growing public-pension crisis.

In order to win DFL endorsement, she committed to exploring a state universal health-care system. The goal may be laudable, but too little has been said about how it would meld with the federal program and whether the cost is sustainable, especially in these times.

Anderson Kelliher also supports a large, dedicated increase in state school funding combined with cuts in property taxes. To her credit, she says Minnesota must conquer its budget crisis first.

She opposes gambling expansion and state tax dollars being spent on a new Vikings stadium, would sign a same-sex marriage bill and rightly identifies Minnesota’s eroding water quality as its biggest environmental problem.

Anderson Kelliher is facing two wealthy Goliaths who have invested small fortunes in the Aug. 10 primary. Their campaign war chests neither qualify nor disqualify any of the three capable and experienced candidates. Anderson Kelliher should win on merit alone.

Editorials reprinted with permission.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/05/2010 - 08:40 am.

    I don’t put much stock in political endorsements—I’ve never heard anyone say they voted for a candidate because they had so-and-so’s support. Although it does provide an opportunity to put context into that particular media outlet’s political coverage for the remainder of the campaign.

  2. Submitted by myles spicer on 08/05/2010 - 09:49 am.

    Well, certainly any of the three would be fine candidates, and take our state forward (instead of the backward trend we have recently experienced).

    But of all the editorials, the one I would disagree with most, is the Daily’s comment on electability — and as a Democrat who is eager to see one of the three win this fall, I believe Dayton actually IS the most electable of the three. The polls show that as well.

    He has name recognition, funding, strong support among high voting seniors, a long history of public service, as well as solid ideas. I would support any of the three (the party is lucky to have an ample supply of really good candidates); but Dayton is my first choice for the reasons above.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/05/2010 - 07:51 pm.

    Editorial endorsements carry only as much weight as their logic will support. The Mesabi Daily News endorsement of Mark Dayton doesn’t carry much, to my mind. It seems to me to be more in the way of paying a debt some decades old rather than an endorsement for the future, based on more recent history.

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