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Former candidate Tom Horner likely to join Johnson campaign for governor

Former candidate Tom Horner likely to join Johnson campaign for governor
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Tom Horner

Another leader in the Minnesota Independence Party is gravitating toward support of a Republican statewide candidate. 

Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate for governor in 2010, is meeting this week with GOP candidate for governor Jeff Johnson to discuss joining his campaign. Late last month, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden got the endorsement of former Independence Party chair Jack Uldrich.  (The Independence Party has endorsed a candidate for governor, Hannah Nicollet.)

Horner is already informally advising the Johnson campaign on policy issues.  The meeting could make his role official and bring some centrist credentials to the campaign.

“I’m not one to sit on the sidelines,” Horner said.

Why Johnson and why now? 

“Johnson will listen to people, will look to a lot of different sources for policy advice,” Horner said.  “Most important, he’ll be open to new programs, new ideas instead of just sending checks.”

In his 2010 race for governor against Dayton and GOP candidate Tom Emmer, Horner got 12 percent of the vote.  Horner believes there’s a core Independence Party vote of five percent — a significant number, though not enough to upend a race where polls suggest that Dayton is holding a nine to ten point lead.  

But there are other factors in play, Horner says. “There’s another 10 to 15 percent that moves with the Independence Party,” he said.   “This is a year that a lot of independent voters will look at the other two candidates.”

This means an opportunity for Johnson, Horner said. “He will have to go beyond some of the stereotypical Republican issues and solutions and show that he can speak to new ideas and new ways of addressing challenges,” he said.

Education, health care, and taxes are the three legs of both Johnson’s and Dayton’s campaigns.  Here is Horner’s take on those issues.    

On education: “A good case is all day kindergarten. Of course it’s a fine idea but if you’re going to spend $135 million to get kids ready, to get ready for jobs, where is the most valuable return on our money? I think Jeff Johnson is much more likely to [ask that question] rather than Mark Dayton.”

On taxes: “I wasn’t opposed to raising more revenue, but the way the governor went about it is not in the best long-term interest of Minnesota. Just adding fourth tier only reinforces a tax system that isn’t suited to a global market. Maybe we need more revenue but tilt the policy much more to tax consumption and more to reward investment.” 

On health care: “MnSure is where Republicans could play an effective role. It’s good that we’re expanding access and covering children and have a more robust marketplace.  Now how do we control the underlying drivers of health care?”

In 2010, Horner’s candidacy drew the support of such Republican luminaries as former governors Arne Carlson and Al Quie, and a slate of prominent former GOP legislators who refused to back the party’s endorsee, Tom Emmer.  The group was branded “quislings” by then GOP party chair Tony Sutton.    

Now, Horner has emerged as a power broker of the middle, and his endorsement could bring those same Republicans into the Johnson tent, where they would be welcomed with open arms. 

Horner won’t predict the likelihood of that happening, but said of his meeting with Johnson, “Our conversation … is going to say what happens next.”

Comments (52)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/08/2014 - 01:00 pm.

    So “Independent” really means


    Mr. Horner is, sadly, repeating Republican boilerplate.

    All-day kindergarten is, in fact, a fine idea, but no one sends their 5-year-old to kindergarten to provide them with job skills. The notion that the purpose of education is to create workers is, at best, pernicious, and at worst smacks heavily of exactly the sort of centralized state that people who like to call themselves “conservative” keep insisting they want to avoid.

    Taxing consumption and rewarding investment produces a tax system heavily weighted in favor of the wealthy – even more heavily weighted in favor of the wealthy than our current setup – at the expense of what’s left of the middle class, and certainly of those in the bottom third of the economy. As a percentage, the wealthy spend far less of their income on “consumption” than do most of us, and of course “rewarding investment” is the code phrase for all sorts of interesting tax loopholes, from taxing capital gains at a lower rate to taxing income at a lower rate “…in order to encourage investment.” Too bad the research in recent years shows conclusively that lowering taxes (a Bush administration specialty) has had no effect on investment rates. Moreover, there’s no ethical or even tax policy rationale for taxing capital gains at a lower rate than regular income except to benefit those relative few for whom capital gains are a substantial source of income – that is, the 1%, or, to be generous, the top 10%. The rest of us are the ones who pick up the slack on that one.

    As for health care, the “underlying drivers” of health care costs are in the private sector. I’ve yet to see a Republican candidate suggest that drug companies and for-profit health insurers ought to make less money, or specialist physicians collect lower fees for their services, or for-profit hospitals charge patients less. When a Republican candidate endorses lower income for the private sector in health care, I expect the earth to explode…

  2. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/08/2014 - 01:59 pm.

    Tom Horner…

    Criticizes Mark Dayton’s runaway taxation but he is the reason we have Dayton. He took votes from Emmer. The train has left the station. Next term we will see the real Mark Dayton when it comes to taxation. Hold on to your wallets, hard working Minnesotans!!!

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/08/2014 - 07:00 pm.

      We definately dodged a bullet

      Thanks to mister Horner, the state owes him a debt of gratitude. Had Emmer been elected our economy would be as bad as it is in Wisconsin. Thank you Mister Horner.

      As for holding onto wallets, that’s what got us in debt in the first place. Pawlenty squandered the state’s tobacco settlement money on tax cuts, we saw a major bridge collapse in Minneapolis on his watch, 13 people died, all so the Wealthy could hang onto their wallets.

      “Horrible” Mr. Dayton has balanced the budget, paid back schools what Mr. Pawlenty “borrowed” and started rebuilding our neglected infrastructure. Infrastructure built with the sweat of our parents and grand parents, who didn’t “hold onto their wallets” because the knew the value of good roads, schools, hospitals, sewer and water, all now neglected so Radical Right Wing Conservatives (Republicans) can give tax breaks to their wealthy benefactors. They have no respect for what their forefathers built.

      Thank god for Tom Horner in the last election. Hopefully he will work his “magic” again and hand Mark Dayton another term.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/08/2014 - 02:28 pm.

    This is the way the IP ends

    Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

    There never seemed like there was much reason for the IP in the first place. Now that their de facto standard bearer is going to put on the “moderate Republican” costume and try to tell us that a tea party Republican governor wouldn’t be all that bad, there seems to be even less point for them to continue.

  4. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 09/08/2014 - 02:46 pm.

    Wait a minute

    Wasn’t Horner a Republican before he was an Independent?

  5. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/08/2014 - 02:46 pm.

    Calibrate Your Settings

    Tom Horner? Power broker? First I heard.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/08/2014 - 07:02 pm.

      His participation in the race last time

      handed power to Mark Dayton. At the least we all owe Tom Horner and big thank you. With luck he’ll do it again.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 09:52 pm.

        Thank you for acknowledging what I had thought. Dayton needed help to win the Governor race.

        And I sure would not call Emmer a challenging opponent.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/09/2014 - 09:18 am.

          Deja Vu All Over Again

          Kind of reminds you of the way Peter Hutchinson siphoned off enough DFL votes for Pawlenty to win, doesn’t it? That guy never did win a statewide race with a majority, which Dayton has done.

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/09/2014 - 04:43 am.


        Mr Dayton’s new taxation didn’t apply to you is what you are saying, too.

  6. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/08/2014 - 03:10 pm.

    Horner in the Corner

    Oh let’s get real.

    Republican to Independent to Republican?
    Why can’t we have candidates that can tell us who they really are? Nothing everything needs to be a con job.

  7. Submitted by Lora Jones on 09/08/2014 - 03:50 pm.

    Nothing new

    There never WAS an independence party — it was always just a large subset of Republicans who weren’t gaining traction in the caucuses and a smattering of Conservadems to give it the façade of moderation.

  8. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 09/08/2014 - 03:51 pm.

    If Horner actually

    Believes that if elected Johnson will not revisit the usual Republican social issues, he is a true fool.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/10/2014 - 08:39 am.

      By the usual Republican social issues, I’m guessing you mean the issue the DFL excoriated the GOP for addressing, and then made the first piece of legislation they put in the ol’ hopper last year, right?

      Or is it the social issue the DNC sends me a flood of *ALERT* e-mail about each week asking for cash to support?

  9. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 09/08/2014 - 06:35 pm.

    Business As Usual

    Mr. Horner has never wavered from his Republican roots so this in not a surprise at all. Jack Uldrich is one of the most engaging and brightest people I have ever met but his heart has always been with the Republican party, though not so much with the ultra-conservatives who dominate it now.

    Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden are both very pleasant, well spoken fellows with a friendly demeanor but make no mistake, their political souls are solidly parked far out in the distance corners of right field. Both rigidly adhere to the belief that government belongs only to “job creators” and people of wealth while every one else should just be quiet and get out of the way.

    What is surprising is that both Mr. Horner and Mr. Uldrich cannot – or refuse to – see through the veils that Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden are so desperately trying pull over all of our eyes.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/08/2014 - 08:36 pm.


      They recognize the failure of their political experiment. One would assume they see the MNGOP’s recent struggles as an opportunity to perhaps reinsert themselves back to where they’d truly prefer to be. I imagine they plan to leverage the Republican failures as a means of pushing them leftward and hopefully toward more success. They will find themselves utterly rebuffed by a party even more extreme than that which they left the first time, but its not as if they have many other options. They’ll fall in line, and toe whatever party line the far right requires, to hold on to whatever power and influence they have left.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 09:49 pm.

      My Favorite Concept

      If one is sitting on the far left side… Many people appear far to the right of you.

      By the way, it works the other way also…

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/10/2014 - 12:23 pm.

        If I sat on the rightward side

        The current generation of Republicans would still be on the lawn outside of the right side of the building, wandering off rightward toward the horizon.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/10/2014 - 05:11 pm.

          That is Funny

          That’s what the Conservatives say about the current Liberals. They long for the days of the Kennedy Democrats… Here is one persons opinion of the difference.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 09/10/2014 - 06:51 pm.

            Sorry, but who cares?

            Ferrara’s opinion carries no weight…why bring a partisan columnist and member of a conservative think tank into the discussion? We already know what someone who represents the “National Tax Limitation Foundation” thinks of the Democratic party and we couldn’t give a rip.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/10/2014 - 09:40 pm.

              Just emphasizing my point. Most folks see “that other person” as the far lefter or far righter. Maybe we all like to see to ourselves as rational, logical, normal, balanced, etc.

              I think it is easy to see if you are a moderate… Do you disagree with the Republicans on multiple issues? and Do you disagree with the Democrats on multiple issues? If lengths of the “disagree” lists are similar, you are likely a moderate. If one list is really short, you are likely off center.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/11/2014 - 06:39 am.

                How foolish

                Such a view would presuppose that both sides have an equal amount of correct ideas and policy proposals, OR that lacking any personal idea of what one feels to be correct one simply states that everything on both sides is wrong. I have no difficulty is stating my preference for left leaning policy, its what I believe to be correct and I couldn’t care less if I am vilified by conservatives for such belief. Why is that conservatives are so outraged when I respond in kind to their beliefs, which I find to be misguided? There is nothing wrong with partisanship, the moderate vision you claim, (whether I believe it or not) is nothing more than a cop out for inaction, after all since all we partisans are the ones who can’t agree, how could you moderates be blamed when nothing gets done? ( That your secret conservative self desires this outcome is another matter).

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/11/2014 - 07:24 am.

                  Drinking the Juice

                  I guess I see it differently. When you start to see either the GOP (Conservatives) or DFL(Liberals) as being Angels or Demons (right or wrong) (greedy or caring), you have likely given up self determination and become a cult follower. Once this occurs, their perceptions of reality on individual topics and individuals become tainted and extremely biased.

                  Commenters here often talk about the evils of being prejudiced, however people on the far right and left practice it everyday when viewing the opposing party and their candidates.

                  • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/11/2014 - 11:21 pm.


                    I inform myself on issues and develop my own opinion on them. Then, in looking at the political landscape, I gravitate toward the party, and the politicians that most closely align with my views. Its OK, your inherent bias prevents you from recognizing that one needn’t be misguided or unintelligent to hold views unlike your own. I try not to play that card when describing conservatives, as I don’t necessarily believe most are either one. Rather I see most conservatives as actively opposed to the way of life I cherish, their aims diametrically opposed to my own. A rather adversarial and cynical outlook to be sure, but I’m not exactly a kum by a sort of person, and when one is engaged in combat, be it real or rhetorical, its best not to forget who it is you’re struggling against.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/12/2014 - 07:10 am.


                      “Rather I see most conservatives as actively opposed to the way of life I cherish, their aims diametrically opposed to my own.”

                      Seems somewhat rational, however I believe many commenters here would apply the terms stereotyping, prejudiced, profiling, discrimination and maybe even racism to such behavior when others do such in other situations.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/12/2014 - 11:04 am.

                      Conservatism is a choice

                      Your other examples are not.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/12/2014 - 12:42 pm.

                      Back to top

                      Your comment confirms mine, more on top.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/12/2014 - 01:43 pm.

                      Not really

                      Matt and I are honest about what we are. You like to portray yourself as a moderate, but your posts give you away. Frankly, I’d have more respect for you if you just admitted to what you are. I’ll say this about Swift, Tester and Rose…at least they own what they say and are proud of it. Thoughts?

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/12/2014 - 07:16 pm.


                      If the only choices were either to stand on the LEFT or RIGHT side of a river you would be absolutely correct. I would need to probably stand on the Conservative shore because I believe personal property rights and capitalism are very important to the success of America and her citizens.

                      The nice thing is that there is a broad bridge across the river and people can stand where they want on social and economic issues. (ie Nolan diagram) Therefore I have the freedom to believe what I believe on each issue. Man I love America.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/13/2014 - 05:39 pm.

                      Talk about perpetuating sterotypes

                      I own personal property and profit from capitalism daily. What makes you think those are only conservative traits?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/10/2014 - 11:08 pm.

              One Addition

              If you think your party’s politicians are to centrist… You are likely in either the far far right or far far left.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/09/2014 - 06:11 am.

    Republicans and Democrats

    One of the most striking things about Republicans and Democrats is that while both parties often share the same goals, it’s the Democratic Party who believe in and supports actually achieving them. Rarely is there a more vivid demonstration of this than in this interview with Tom Horner. How does he see the governor’s job? He thinks the governor should ask questions, to engage in some continuing quest for a better or even best solution. Well folks, the best is the mortal enemy of the good, and if you want to achieve something there comes a time when you make a decision as to what you want and what you can get and push forward. That’s what the DFL governor and the DFL legislature did during the last two years, and a solid record of achievement is the result.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 03:35 pm.


      It is amazing what one can get done if you don’t care about cost or results. You just spend and hope the money tree does not begin to wilt.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/09/2014 - 07:28 pm.


      Hiram, you are correct in stating that Republicans and Democrats share the same goals. That common goal is re-election.

  11. Submitted by Bruce Anderson on 09/09/2014 - 09:23 am.

    Where’s Tony Sutton?

    We need to ask him if Tom and his republican supporters from 2010 are now out of quisling hell.

    Or is Tom now in IP quisling hell?

    Adn, based upon the fundraising letter I just received from Tom on Johnson’s behalf, look for a press conference this week.

  12. Submitted by John Appelen on 09/12/2014 - 12:55 pm.


    I agree that political views are choices.

    Just like we choose how to dress, we choose who to associate with, we choose to how to behave, we choose how we smell, we choose what our attitudes are, we choose the words we speak, we choose how we treat others, etc, etc, etc.

    Now should we stereotype anyone based on these choices, or evaluate each human individually?

    Our all Conservatives the same? Are all Liberals?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/12/2014 - 08:46 pm.

      One invites the association

      When one chooses to label themselves one accepts that certain perceptions and assumption may be tied to that label, or should.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/13/2014 - 07:51 am.


        So when one chooses to associate with certain people or appear a certain way, they invite being stereotyped by others and treated thus. Interesting.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/13/2014 - 03:47 pm.

          Your digging way too deep

          An easy example of your point would be my showing up for a job interview shirtless and reeking of alcohol, should I be stereotyped? I realize you’d like to bait me into a racial debate, but all of your beating around the bush with associations and appearances are trumped by the fact the racists you are apparently attempting to defend are generally only looking for one thing and it isn’t a persons clothes or associates.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/13/2014 - 09:49 pm.


            Now that is reaching, assuming why people who you have not met are doing what they are doing. I have to learn your trick for reading minds and knowing a persons intent.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/15/2014 - 02:16 pm.


          Like, when one chooses to associate with the black community by being born black, they invite being stereotyped by others and treated thus..

  13. Submitted by John Appelen on 09/13/2014 - 10:14 pm.


    Sorry Jason,
    The Left shore supports very progressive taxation so that one person’s money can be given to others. To far left for my taste,

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/15/2014 - 10:51 am.

    This is why the IP is just a branch of the republican party

    If you look at the IP positions objectively, it’s clear that the democrats are more closely aligned with IP priorities.

    Democrats apposed the marriage amendment and voter ID. Democrats ended the fiscal roller coaster that Pawlenty created. Democrats restored education and transportation funding without creating or enlarging the deficit. By almost any measure Dayton should be your guy if your an IP supporter. Yet Horner’s breaking towards republicans, why? Because he’s a republican and the IP is simply the Libertarian wing of the republican party.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/15/2014 - 11:51 am.

      Small Government

      I think the big DFL tax increases and that huge bonding bill may not to be too popular with independents.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/15/2014 - 12:31 pm.


        The IP explicitly claims to support tax increases as long as they’re fiscally responsible. Nor is bonding supposed to be a big issue for IP’s as long it doesn’t strain the budget. These things are only a problem for small government no new tax pledge republicans. On balance DFL achievements shouldn’t be a “problem” for true independents. They are however a violation of republican dogma.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/15/2014 - 01:08 pm.


          They raised taxes, increased spending, gave some of the extra cash to their voting constituency, took on ~$1 BILLION of debt, okayed the new stadium, etc.

          I am sorry, but to me achievements are when someone accomplishs something that is at least a little bit challenging. Like accomplishing or exceeding stated goals within a constrained budget.

          I don’t see raising taxes and spending more as much of an achievement when the DFL controls the legislative and executive branch. Kind of like shooting fish in the barrel.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/15/2014 - 12:39 pm.

        Good luck with that…

        “An income tax increase on the wealthiest Minnesotans, the centerpiece of Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget, is supported by 58 percent of those polled, compared with 36 percent opposed. Even more popular is the $1.60 per pack jump in cigarette taxes, favored by 64 percent with 32 percent opposed.”


        “The state’s most-populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, also offered the strongest support for the tax increases, with nearly three-fourths of residents favoring the income tax increase. More than half of those in non-metro Minnesota backed the income tax increase. Only in the suburbs did support dip below 50 percent, with 49 percent supporting compared with 43 percent opposed.

        A whopping 68 percent of women supported the increase, compared with only 26 percent opposed. Men opposed the income tax increase by a 48-46 margin.”

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