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.