Man in the middle: Tom Horner says if independents rule, he wins

Tom Horner: "If this is an election that is decided by the 25 percent of the electorate that are small 'i' independent, I think I win."
MinnPost photo by Jay Weiner
Tom Horner: “If this is an election that is decided by the 25 percent of the electorate that are small ‘i’ independent, I think I win.”

The day after the night before began smack dab in the middle — or that was where Tom Horner’s message was, and surely will be for the next three months.

His take: Mark Dayton is “far left.” Tom Emmer is “far right.” Independence Party candidate Tom Horner can’t be cornered. He’s in-between, and that’s where voters want to be, he says.

“This cannot be a debate over the status quo,” Horner said at an early morning news conference. “For a lot of Minnesotans the status quo isn’t working.”

He said he believes he can engage the “60 to 70 percent of Minnesotans who have been pushed to the sidelines,” the undecideds.

Turnout Tuesday included about 15 percent of eligible voter turnout.

But Horner could only muster 11,300 votes, compared with more than 400,000 for the three DFLers. He said he sees a path from five figures to six — in a general election the winner of this gubernatorial race will probably need to be in the 800,000- to 1 million-vote range.

How will he get from 11,300 to the corner office in the Capitol?

“If this is an election that is decided by the 25 percent of the electorate that are small ‘i’ independent, I think I win,” he said.

Horner’s public day began before his opponents’ with a certain energy, and that was Horner’s demeanor, as he pinballed from the Brooklyn Park Rotary Club to the State Capitol campus for the news conference to Mankato and then back to the Twin Cities for a fundraiser tonight.

While the DFL sorted out its winner and its “unity,” while Republican Tom Emmer prepared to launch his first post-primary campaign ad later in the day, Horner, the winner of the Independence Party primary election, told reporters in the State Office Building that he was the candidate for voters in search of “common sense.” And, he said, he would begin running statewide TV commercials soon, produced by Parachute Design, at a cost of a number of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He said by the end of August he hopes to have raised about one-third of his stated goal of $2.5 million for his campaign.

But Horner, a longtime Twin Cities public affairs consultant with Republican ties, knows he’s not a celebrity like the most successful Independence Party candidate of all-time, Jesse Ventura.

“I don’t think 2010 is a year in which Minnesotans will elect a celebrity,” Horner said. “I think I’m gonna win because there are Minnesotans who are saying, ‘This is the year we are going to decide the future of Minnesota. Who’s offering a vision?’ ”

With that, he was off to Mankato, in pursuit of hundreds of thousands of votes out there in the great middle.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/11/2010 - 11:26 am.

    I would think it hard to get behind either one of the two parties that collaborated with the governor in rolling our deficits the past eight years. The end result is a projected deficit that is double that of when Governor Pawlenty entered office. Clearly the two major parties have not dealt with the problem in any meaningful way.

    We want to talk about politics and avoid any substantive discussions. Which is probably because we do not have any easy and acceptable answers on the policy side. For years we’ve been practicing avoidance, how can we avoid the hard decisions, endless postponement. Call it a shift or a deferral, or call it borrowing. All those deferrals are delayed tax increases and budget cuts. Then then you’re hoping those tax increases and budget cuts will happen on somebody else’s watch and then blame them.

    We as a state have not recognized that we have a long term problem and until you recognize that, you can’t even discuss what the solutions are. We sell slogans instead of philosophy. Nobody agrees on the facts. The DFL doesn’t want to talk about it when they’re trying to spend more on education and social services. The GOP doesn’t want to talk about it because that would put tax increases on the table. So you have a bipartisan agreement not to talk about the most important problem facing our state.

    For the vast majority of folks that vote candidate and not party. Tom Horner offers policies that include adding revenue and making meaningful budget cuts. He brings good ideas from both parties and leaves the political dogma behind.

  2. Submitted by Ross Williams on 08/11/2010 - 11:35 am.

    Tom Horner got slightly over 10,000 votes out of nearly 600,000 cast. Two of the losers in the “uncontested” GOP primary each got almost as many votes. Even if Homer is correct, that Dayton and Emmer don’t represent most Minnesotans, neither does he. He is just the media’s chosen “other candidate”.

    What Horner is counting on is that Dayton and Emmer will trash one another in a negative campaign and the news media will continue to offer him up as the only alternative. It has nothing to do with how left or right wing they are.

  3. Submitted by Daryl Hanson on 08/11/2010 - 11:35 am.

    Hmmm, Common sense, like building a new football stadium when other priorities should be on front burner. All of these candidates don’t have a clue….

  4. Submitted by Ross Williams on 08/11/2010 - 11:40 am.

    The Independence Party clearly does not exist. It is just a convenient vehicle for someone with no real political organization to run for office. What do Jesse Ventura, Tim Penny, Peter Hutchinson and Tom Horner have in common politically? The answer is nothing, other than the ability to grab media attention and the inability to win endorsement by a political party with actual members.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/11/2010 - 02:35 pm.

    Ross Williams writes that IP candidates are hobbled by “the inability to win endorsement by a political party with actual members.”

    Given who the DFL & GOP are nominating, that’s a positive, in my book. The party machines here are promoting the political extremists (Emmer) and insiders (Kelliher). Pawlenty was both. Maybe the inability to win those endorsements should be viewed by voters as a positive sign, not negative.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/11/2010 - 04:26 pm.

    It is my understanding that a majority of the folks that vote are independent(non partisan) and do not identify with either party. I think the numbers that identify as party voters are in the neighborhood of 30% for each party.

  7. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 08/12/2010 - 12:28 pm.

    People forget that a modern political party is a volunteer machine. The Independence Party is not a modern party in the same sense of the word. They’ll get a few bucks, they’ll hire a pollster and we Democrats will put more feet on the pavement in one day than the IP will all year long.

  8. Submitted by Jerry Buerge on 08/14/2010 - 09:43 pm.

    It seems to me that what most Minnesotans might be looking for are temporary changes in the level of existing and certain increased public contributions otherwise known as taxes in a limited number of critical areas that can enable responsible government during a period that will cover the neglected need for balancing budgets that are now seriously out of balance.

    If that can be accomplished for a limited period of time, the length of which cannot be foretold with absolute precision, such major changes – while currently painful – adopted with a sunset date requiring a thorough review beyond which such temporary changes would be adjusted appropriately, I believe such action will find popular appeal among those of us who seek effective government on a properly sustainable basis.

    I will be looking for candidates who present this kind of attitude for each of our legislative and gubernatorial employment positions

    I am not interested in electing anyone willing to avoid the inevitable by again shifting funding proposals to the next legislature or administration. We know that this has been wrongly perpetrated on all Minnesotan citizens during the last several election cycles. We’ve tried less government and found out that less simply doesn’t work. We need responsibility of both office holders and the professional providers of the services that our citizens depend on.

    To continue voting for the same style of government by omission instead of commission would have to be considered as both fraudulent to common sense and an effective vote for the equivalent of a death wish.

    I hope that we will all pay close attention to the proposals made by all candidates for election with the understanding that the current situation no longer warrants an adherence to the limited choice of the two major political parties that have governed this state through many past cycles of government. Cycles that have by their very nature succeeded primarily in furthering the political opportunity of the elected members’ civic employment status.

    Let’s make sure this time that the people we entrust our future to are firmly dedicated to correcting the mistakes of the past and are willing to do their best to help fill in the financial holes their predecessors have dug for us and our children.

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