DFLer Matt Entenza today took a decidedly different path from his competitors in the race for governor, saying he chose a running mate who is “an outsider” at a time when voters don’t trust political insiders and are tired of politics as usual.
At a midmorning news conference, the former legislator confirmed several days of speculation that television news anchor Robyne Robinson was his leading choice for lieutenant governor.
Although Robinson likely will have the highest name recognition of any of the lieutenant governor candidates — she has spent 20 years at Fox 9 news, most recently as the 9 p.m. co-anchor — she is a major contrast to the other announced choices:
- Kelliher chose John Gunyou, a former state finance commissioner. Insider.
- Dayton picked state Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon from Duluth. Insider.
- Tom Emmer, the Republican-endorsed candidate, named Annette Meeks, longtime party strategist. Insider.
Independence Party candidate Tom Horner hasn’t announced his pick yet.
Entenza said this morning that voters have made it clear that they’re not looking for an insider, especially after all the political infighting during recent legislative sessions. He, of course, is a former six-term legislator from St. Paul.
Robinson cited reasons why she is well-prepared to be lieutenant governor:
- 20 years of experience as a journalist covering the Legislature (although in recent years, much of that has been as a news anchor).
- Community activism: She is a board member of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota and a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Juvenile Violence. She also works with inner-city academic youth programs.
- Experience as an entrepreneur and business person, running a jewelry company. (When she left Channel 9 this week, the initial reason given was that she wanted to spend more time on the business.)
During the morning session, reporters asked Robinson several questions about the ethics of appearing as a news anchor until last night, after it had become known publicly that she was considering a run for political office. She said there was no conflict and that she didn’t make a final decision until late last night. She also said there is a distinction between being asked to take a political position and actually accepting an offer.
Entenza, interestingly, refused to say when he made the offer to Robinson. He’d only say that there were “conversations over a period of time.”
And addressing the journalistic ethics issue, Entenza noted that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has a weekly radio show on WCCO-AM.
Entenza said Robinson will focus on education, efforts to reduce teen pregnancy, and arts and culture issues.
In promoting his pick, Entenza said: “Journalists are smart people.” Then, looking at the reporters and photojournalists right in front of him, he said: “I’m sure you’d agree.”
He cited former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams — also a Channel 9 anchor — and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a a former reporter at the Star Tribune.
There was a bit of drama just before the official announcement at 10 a.m., even though the media world has been buzzing about the Robinson rumors for days.
About 50 Entenza supporters lined up in front of the Capitol before the candidate arrived, and the dozen Hmong men in the group all stood in the front row, shoulder to shoulder. That led some to think that maybe Entenza had selected retiring state Sen. Mee Moua as his choice, and that the Robinson hoopla had been a diversion.
But the choice was Robinson, and a campaign adviser said the visibility of the Hmong men was just a coincidence.
As for her jewelry business, Robinson said she’s told Entenza that she plans to stay involved.
Entenza said: “I’ll have to start accessorizing better.”