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Entenza touts TV anchor Robyne Robinson as ‘outsider’ running mate who will resonate with voters

Matt Entenza and Robyne Robinson
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
Matt Entenza made it official today, choosing TV anchor Robyne Robinson as his running mate.

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.

Entenza, who has not fared well in the polls, faces a tough primary race against the DFL-endorsed candidate, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton.

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.

Matt Entenza and Robyne Robinson
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
After making his annoucement, DFLer Matt Entenza and running mate Robyne Robinson filed for office at the secretary of state’s office.

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.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Bob MacNeal on 05/27/2010 - 12:43 pm.

    The “outsider” play is irrelevant.

    With the dire state of the State, the salient question is:
    Does Robyne have progressive chops?

    Let’s examine what Robyne will focus on…

    1. Education — Scores an A+ since our public schools have been gutted for the past 20+ years, particularly during the dogmatic, intransigent, backwards-moving, regressive Pawlenty administration. Very high priority issue!

    2. Teen Pregnancy — Scores a C-. Zzzz. Snore. This is resume fluff. Very low priority issue.

    3. Arts & Culture — Scores a B-. I dig the arts bent, but with public institutions and public infrastructure crumbling, can we afford anything but a token nod to the arts? Low priority issue.

  2. Submitted by David Hanners on 05/27/2010 - 12:53 pm.

    Yikes. I wasn’t one of the reporters standing in front of Entenza, but I would have to take issue with his broad statement that “journalists are smart people.” Some are, some aren’t. Trust me.

    And while TV stations may define “ethics” differently than we do in the newspaper biz, I find it alarming that Robinson was a member of a gubernatorial task force. How could viewers ever have faith on her reporting on that issue? Not to put too fine a point on it, but you can either be a journalist or you can be member of a governor’s task force. You can’t be both.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/27/2010 - 01:03 pm.

    Somebody who spent 20 years as a journalist in town is hardly an outsider. Did Erik Eskola turn him down?

  4. Submitted by John Reinan on 05/27/2010 - 01:36 pm.

    It’s a Hail Mary pass from someone polling in single figures and hoping to get some attention.

    For Robinson, it’s a no-lose. She’ll read scripts, which is what she’s been doing on TV for years. If Entenza goes all the way, she’s lieutenant governor. If he doesn’t make it, she’s raised her profile in a huge way with only a few months’ investment of her time.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/27/2010 - 01:50 pm.

    In the background of the picture on the main page, I see what looks suspiciously similar to a fire engine.

    Please tell me that the fireman’s union isn’t burning publicly owned diesel fuel to drive publicly owned firefighting equipment to Democrat political rallys.

    Not when Democrat mayors are squirting tears about how T-Paw’s LGA cuts are forcing them to cut public services “to the bone”.

    Please.

  6. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 05/27/2010 - 03:03 pm.

    Matt Entenza addressing an ethics issue? That’s a real howler! Did someone explain ethics to him first?

  7. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 05/27/2010 - 04:58 pm.

    If candidate Entenza were a stock this would be his dead cat bounce.(The idea being that even a dead cat will bounce if you drop it from a great height.)

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