13 former Republican legislators back Tom Horner

Former state Sen. George Pillsbury, with former state Reps. Neil Peterson and Peggy Leppik
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
Former state Sen. George Pillsbury, with former state Reps. Neil Peterson and Peggy Leppik, today endorsed Independence Party candidate Tom Horner.

Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner’s campaign trotted out several former Republican state legislators today who announced their support for him.

Six of the 13 former GOP lawmakers were on hand at the state Capitol this afternoon.
For the most part, they criticized Republican candidate Tom Emmer, saying he’s too extreme for them and that Horner better represents a moderate position for both Republicans and DFLers.

That viewpoint was disputed afterward by Republican State Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb, who spoke to reporters outside the Capitol hearing room where the legislators spoke. He said that the former GOP legislators in the room are from a “bygone era” in politics.

“They don’t represent where Minnesotans are and where Republicans are. It’s a different party today, and we’re looking for smaller, leaner, redesigned government,” Brodkorb said.

One of the Horner supporters was Neil Peterson, a former GOP state representative from Bloomington who lost the Republican endorsement in 2008 after going against party wishes and voting to override the governor’s veto of a gas tax increase.

“The Legislature needs to cooperate with the governor’s office, or we won’t get out of this mess,” he said. Horner’s the best candidate to do that because he’s “smart, honest and predictable,” Peterson said.

Peggy Leppik, a former state representative from Golden Valley, said Horner won’t pander to the extremes.

Several said the race appears to be coming down to Horner vs. DFLer Mark Dayton, and they don’t want fellow Republicans to feel they’re wasting their vote by supporting Horner.

Former state Sen. Bill Belanger, from Bloomington, said Horner’s the only candidate “courageous enough to put greater emphasis on the sales tax.” Expanding the sales tax to include clothing and some other services would stabilize the tax system, and Horner’s plan is the only proposal out there that would provide some stability … and eliminate the feast and famine” that’s plagued the state budget for years.

Former state Sen. George Pillsbury said “lots of Republicans are afraid that if they vote for Horner, they’ll get Dayton, and lots of Democrats are afraid that if they vote for Horner, they’ll get Emmer.”

He said: “We don’t want Emmer because he doesn’t have the capability and experience to be governor. He’s a nice guy with a nice family,” but isn’t the best choice for governor.

Will the Horner team come up with some former DFL legislators who support the IP candidate?

Horner campaign manager Steve Imholte said that’s his next job: “I’m confident we’ll get DFLers. Our first step is to define the race as between Horner and Dayton.”

The former legislators at the Capitol today were:

  • Rep. Peggy Leppik, Golden Valley
  • Rep. Neil Peterson, Bloomington
  • Sen. George Pillsbury, Wayzata
  • Sen. Bill Belanger, Bloomington
  • Rep. Dennis Ozment, Rosemount
  • Rep. Dave Bishop, Rochester

Also submitting statements of support for Horner were these former legislators:

  • Rep. Roger Scherer, Brooklyn Center
  • Rep. David Jennings, Martin and Watonwan counties
  • Sen. Ed Oliver, Deephaven
  • Rep. Lynne Osterman, New Hope
  • Rep. Bill Schreiber, Brooklyn Park
  • Rep. Art Seaberg, So. St. Paul
  • Rep. Rod Searle, Waseca.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/06/2010 - 04:25 pm.

    I think these endorsements will be very helpful for Democrats that find themselves unable to vote for Mark Dayton after the he made a laughing stock of the honor they bestowed upon him by sending him to the US Senate.

    I’m also sure that many Democrats do not wish to support a candidate that promises to “work with” the man that made a similar mess of the trust they placed in him as President of the US.

    Tom Horner is the only choice for thoughtful, moderate Democrats.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/06/2010 - 05:23 pm.

    If they didn’t fear the retribution of the radicals who have taken over their party, I can’t help but wonder how many CURRENT republican legislators would also express support for Tom Horner.

    As to Mr. Brodkorb’s comments that moderates are from a “bygone era” and the necessity for “smaller, leaner, redesigned government,” polls, more and more seem to indicate that the “Republican Party” Mr. Brodkorb leads is only a small subgroup within those who still consider themselves Republicans and those who would like to do so, once again.

    The question for me is whether REAL Republicans will rise up, attend their precinct caucuses and take the party back from the noisy, angry, highly-motivated radicals who took it away from them.

  3. Submitted by Daryl Hanson on 10/06/2010 - 05:38 pm.

    These former legislatures are the quintessential RINOs. They no more believe in small government than your neighborhood liberal. I can see why the Democratic Party has seen a resurgence with these clowns in the Republican party. These RINO’s are the reason the Tea Party came into existence. Hey RINOS, don’t let the conservative small government door hit you on your way out…

  4. Submitted by Allison Sandve on 10/06/2010 - 08:31 pm.

    I’m a Tom Horner supporter. Before becoming an east-of-the-river gal, I lived in Bill Belanger’s district and while I usually vote Dem, I was more than happy to vote for Belanger. He’s smart as a whip and understands fiscal policy better than 99 percent of legislators then and now.

    While masses of my Dem-leaning friends also support Horner, the comments of Mr. Brodkorb strikingly reveal while similarly huge numbers of GOP leaners are flocking to Horner. Brodkorb’s characterization of those who served under the GOP banner is unclassy and ungracious. Presumably, by lumping Belanger, Jennings, Schreiber, et al., into the “bygone era,” we can assume that Bob Dole, Gerald and Betty Ford, Howard Baker, Alan Simpson and a whole host of others would fail his litmus test.

    Meanwhile, the new standard-bearers of Brodkorb’s party include Carl Paladino, Christine O’Donnell and their … uhm … intellectual leader: the former Alaska governor who walked off the job.

  5. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/07/2010 - 05:28 am.

    What is this “courageous” deal republicans keep trotting out about Horner’s support of an expanded sales tax? There is nothing courageous about it. Horner is simply afraid to alienate his big business corporate base and latches on to any regressive tax he can. There is nothign courageous about eliminating corporate income tax. That move simply ensures a continued gravy train of corporate money through phony citizen’s groups. Now, if Horner can just move right enough to get the Chamber’s support he can tap foreign money that has illegally been funnelled through the Chamber’s general fund. Horner is not courageous, he is a corporate stooge that is not supported by “masses of dems”. Sixteen percent does not represent masses of dems but a plundering of Emmer’s more moderate republicans. This race gives the Republican Party a nice snap shot of the reason they will not take control of the House this year. Radical right wingers run the state and national party. I find it fascinating that very conservative republicans like Horner are somehow being left behind (and with much personally directed Brodkorb vitriol) to flounder in third parties and split the reublican vote.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/07/2010 - 06:25 am.

    Perhaps we can at least agree that the more interesting debate here is about how much we can learn about political parties today based on their past policies and past candidates, rather than about what we like or dislike about today’s Democrats or Republicans. The latter point has been so thoroughly talked to death that there’s little interesting to say. History, however, can be much more interesting because we find out how similar issues were dealt with in the past, and we also find out that the past isn’t necessarily what we thought it was, and that while history frequently “revisits”, it never exactly “repeats”.

    During my lifetime, I’ve watched the Democratic Party work hard to lose both the farm vote and the labor vote, which took some doing, but they finally managed to achieve it. Then I watched the Republicans first pander to the Fundamentalists, in order to procure votes that mere money couldn’t buy, and then become the party of big government in every imaginable way. Who one would have guessed, in 1940, that the Democrats, once the “party of the working man”, would eventually manage to drive away both farmers and labor by pandering to narrow urban leftist constituencies, and who would have imagined, in 1980, that the Republicans, once they solidified control, would not only deliver nothing to the religious people who sung the vote their way, but would eventually run up a huge budget deficit during prosperous times, drastically increase government surveillance of citizens, and engage in the “nation-building” that they used to decry? There may be only one thing to learn from all of this, and that is that the behavior of a party when out of power provides absolutely no indication of how it might behave once it gains power, as anyone who voted for Johnson over Goldwater based on their positions on Vietnam quickly learned. The past is prologue, but not always in the way we might think. Sometimes the lesson of history is that you can’t always learn from history.

  7. Submitted by Paul Linnee on 10/07/2010 - 01:01 pm.

    This quote appeared in today’s Strib article about the Republican former legislators who came out to support Horner:

    “Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton took it a step further, dismissing defectors as “a generation of Republicans that were not successful, the permanent minority. There’s a special place in hell for these quislings.”

    Does anyone else find this to be just a wee bit over the top?

  8. Submitted by David Greene on 10/07/2010 - 02:11 pm.

    Bill Belanger? If he’s supporting Horner then I’m definitely not voting for him. He was a stick-in-the-mud on transportation, setting this state back decades. I remember one interaction I had with him as he was walking down the capitol hallway. I told him he knew that funding transportation was the right and necessary thing to do. He actually stopped, turned, looked at me with an expression that said, “yes, I know” then walked away and kept opposing funding. One of the worst of those who don’t have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

  9. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/07/2010 - 05:59 pm.

    Every so often, I re-read Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech to remind myself of what Republicans used to be.

    What Republican today would lament with Eisenhower that every dollar spent on weaponry is a dollar not spent to feed a hungry child? Which would warn us that out-of-control military spending would result in a symbiotic relationship he called the military-industrial complex?

    Today, Eisenhower would be called a socialist or a commie pinko sympathizer by his fellow party-members, while Dems would welcome him with open arms because of his beliefs.

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