Behind the biographies of the candidates for governor

Mark Dayton running

After working for months inside the candidates’ homes with their families, there are many interesting details that won’t make it into our half-hour biography show “Minnesota’s Choice for Governor 2010” which airs Friday Oct. 15 at 9:30 pm and Sunday Oct. 31 at noon on TPT2.  We launched this attempt to figure out where the candidates really come from back in 2000.  After seeing voters influenced by personality and biography in Jesse Ventura’s election in 1998, we wanted to find a substantive way to cover candidates’ personal history.  Mark Dayton was running for U.S. Senate in 2000 and he told us his “wealth, privilege, differentness” was his biggest obstacle to overcome.  Ten years later Dayton is much more at peace with his “unearned wealth.”  He shared that he thinks Minnesotans have seen his commitment to public service and his struggles with alcoholism and depression. 

Mark Dayton in high school

It’s interesting that all the candidates come from a pretty privileged private school upbringing.  Mark Dayton attended Blake, Tom Emmer St. Thomas Academy, Tom Horner Benilde.  After visiting all their homes, Dayton lives in surprisingly humble surroundings, an unimpressive urban apartment with the only hint of wealth being some great art.  The dogs are dear to him and have the run of the place.  Horner and Emmer have lovely large suburban homes.  Of course the Emmers would have to have a lot of space with seven kids running around.  The Emmer kids were funny and real, wrestling and fighting and taking care of each other.  The older boys look and sound so much like their father.  The Horner kids are all impressive young adults with a lot of poise.

Tom Emmer in high school

Emmer was the least comfortable with me invading his home.  He said he prefers debates to being forced to talk about his personal life, but he knows he has to do it.  His Edina parents Tom and Patsy were warm and welcoming.  Tom Senior even adjusts his neck the same way Tom Junior (or Tommy) often does.  They were honest about their son needing to find some maturity as a young man.

Jacquie and Tom Emmer as Rollerblade models

Emmer’s wife Jacquie is a former St. Paul Winter Carnival Queen who once wanted to go to law school too.  She said after they had a few kids they decided to just have as many as happened until they were 40.  Jacquie was new to all this attention and unsure if they were ready, but she exuded warmth and humor during our time in her home.  Emmer was nervous that we got a hold of a photo of him as a Rollerblade model (but not the image of him in Spandex he feared).

Tom Horner’s wedding

Tom Horner’s wife Libby made us coffee and cake (which we wouldn’t accept to avoid any conflicts of interest).  She too was sweet and funny and smart.  Libby wasn’t so excited about the interview either, but she was wonderfully open about their lives.  I think she surprised Tom by sharing her battle with breast cancer with us.  If you watch the show carefully, when I mention her cancer, Tom’s jaw drops and quivers.  It was a great raw moment where the often controlled Horner shows emotion.  He told me afterwards that he had to work very hard not to cry.  There are plenty of tears from lots of people close to the candidates and I think a clearer picture of who they are and where they might take the state.  It’s “Minnesota’s Choice for Governor 2010” and again it airs Friday Oct. 15th at 9:30 pm and Sunday Oct. 31 at noon on TPT2. 

Tom Horner’s childhood family

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