GOP candidates for governor tackle Dayton, heat at State Fair forum

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Left to right: Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson, Kurt Zellers debating the issues at the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday.

Gov. Mark Dayton should be prepared for a bill to repeal the new warehousing tax during the upcoming special legislative session.

Republican candidate for governor and state Rep. Kurt Zellers promised the bill during Sunday’s candidate forum at the Minnesota State Fair.

Zellers, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and state Sen. Dave Thompson, three of the five candidates who appeared at the University of Minnesota event, all said they intend to tackle Dayton on his business record.

“This governor demonstrates his lack of understanding of how business works,” Thompson replied to a question from Larry Jacobs, U of M political science professor who moderated the event.

“Governor Dayton’s job strategy is singular,” said Johnson. “It provides subsidies to businesses to try to lure them here…. but we have created such an uninviting environment for people to start or expand a business here, that’s all he’s got left.”

Only three of the announced GOP candidates for governor made it to the stage on Dan Patch Avenue. Scott Honour declined, citing a scheduling conflict. The newest candidate, Hibbing schoolteacher Rob Farnsworth, listened but did not speak. He said he didn’t register for the event in time to participate.

Small crowd

Neither Honour nor Farnsworth missed much of an opportunity to persuade voters. It appeared that aside from campaign volunteers, fewer than a dozen people showed up to listen to the candidates on a steamy Sunday afternoon.

“Sounds political to me,” remarked one flushed fairgoer who walked on by.

But the candidates soldiered on, agreeing that the state’s health-care exchange should be dismantled—while acknowledging the unlikelihood of that—and pushing aside the issues of abortion and gay marriage as not relevant to their campaigns.

In responses to the questions of whether factions within the Republican Party led to losses in 2012 and the value of the party endorsement, all three concluded it was time for the GOP to try to achieve a bigger political tent.

“I think the key to us winning an election is that we don’t spend too much time talking to ourselves. And that’s what the endorsement process, unfortunately, engenders,” said Johnson who, like Thompson, said he will abide by the endorsement and not challenge the winner in a primary.

Zellers and the primary

Zellers explained why he intends to seek the endorsement, but will go on to a primary if necessary. “One of it is a function of whether the party has the resources to help us out. It’s no great secret that we are substantially and woefully in debt,” he said. “I actually don’t know if we will have an endorsement.”

Thompson said: “Let’s be clear. To be the governor of this state you have to speak to all Minnesotans; and certainly to be a credible candidate for the Republican Party, you have to speak to all Republicans during that process.

“I’m a believer that new blood in a political party, disagreements within the party, different perspectives within the party—that’s all good,” he added.

Zellers recounted his own experience with tent stretching. “After the last election, some Republicans, longtime Republicans, endorsed Tom Horner—the party kicked them out,” he said. “A week after that, I called some of the people to say you’re welcome in the House Republican Party if the Minnesota Republican Party doesn’t want you.”

Johnson added: “There are still moderate Republicans out there.We need them to win elections.”

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 08/26/2013 - 10:26 am.

    Is attacking MNSure a good idea?

    No one knows how well MNSure will work, but if it lives up to its potential, these three guys are going to look pretty silly speaking out against it.

  2. Submitted by David Broden on 08/26/2013 - 11:20 am.

    Why the GOP Candidates have no Audience!!

    GOP gubinatorial candidates have no audience for a simple reason — no new ideas or even topics that capture the interest of the citizens of MN. The potenial 2014 candiates all focus on compliaining about Dayton and the DFL, cutting taxes, and reducing spending. We cannnot have a future in Mn without attention to GROWTH — of the economy–of quallity education– of intrastructure– of atttention to the environment while also enabling growth. Both parties must shift from cut spending/reduce taxes or raise taxes and spend more to a theme of growth first and apply taxes and spending priorities to achieve growth– this is in a more profound statement– investment competitiveness focused on foundational strengths-education, roads, environment, etc. The GOP just does not get this message and neither does the DFL. MN governors who caputured these themes Elmer L Anderson, Levander, Perpich, Carlson, to name a few addressed these topics and results followed. Minnesotans deserve to hear a vision of leadership not one of simply managing in the same approach and constraints. I have sent this messsge to the GOP candidates several times in the past 4-6 weeks and have received on response–clearly a message that the GOP want to maintain the status quo message of complaints, tax cuts, and spending cuts. Anyone who thinks this approach will win is off base– the winner will the candidate who have positive vision and leadership for Mn that will provide opportunity for all of MN. I only hope this dicussion will get some very strong endorsement and or criticism rather than just be words not paid attention too. I await the additional comments today.

    Dave Broden

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 08/26/2013 - 11:48 am.

    Questions for the Candidates

    1. Now that the Supreme Court has stated that all citizens have a fundamental right to affordable healthcare, if you eliminate Obamacare, what will you replace it with?

    2. It has been determined that the austerity measures the Republican Party preached for the past 12 years was based on a calculation error in a spreadsheet. Government stimulus has turned out to actually be good for the economy and creates thousands of jobs. Do you still believe that shrinking government will create jobs?

    3. The party is inept at stopping gay marriage and abortions, proposes to cut off aid to the poor and elderly and now is opposed to any immigration reform. Why should a Catholic vote Republican?

    4. Democrats raised taxes on the wealthy and the unemployment rate has dropped and economic activity has increased. Do you still believe that cutting taxes on the wealthy will create jobs?

    • Submitted by Tim Saxton on 08/26/2013 - 03:39 pm.

      Re: Questions for the Candidates

      1. The Supreme Court has not stated that all citizens have fundamental right to affordable healthcare. The court said that Obamacare was constitutional as a tax. This means they will let the law stand, and it isn’t illegal.

      2. The stimulus bills have had little stimulus effect. For example, one of the stimulus bills was “Cash for Clunkers” that would save Detroit. Have you noticed that the unemployment rate climbed nonstop until the Republicans took over Congress and stopped the reckless spending… and then we saw the rate slowly drop?

      3. Should the government force you to pay for something you are have moral and religious objections to? Nobody wants to cut aid to the poor and elderly, fear monger someplace else. And Immigrates are welcome. Just want to have people immigrate legally.

      4. Did you notice the special session Dayton is calling because because he raised taxes too much? How about how jobs are leaving the state? Notice when the Internet Sales Tax was passed, expanding the rules on what qualifies as an “In state business”, Amazon fired all their Minnesota employees?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2013 - 05:23 pm.

        Missing a lot of points

        1. Very true.

        2. The stimulus has not been a 100% success, but then, neither has anything else in human history. According to the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, 80% of all economists agree that the US unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been otherwise. How’s that austerity thing working out in England?

        3. “Should the government force you to pay for something you are have moral and religious objections to?” It does all the time. It’s a by-product of representative democracy, and majority rule. “Nobody wants to cut aid to the poor and elderly . . .” I’m afraid that they do (see, Ryan, Paul, budget proposals of).

        4. Governor Dayton is calling a special session for emergency disaster relief. It is the Republicans who want to turn it into tax-repealing. Did Amazon have Minnesota employees? Or only affiliates who made a few dolars from selling through Amazon (sort of an e-Amway)?

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/29/2014 - 01:08 pm.

      Progress ought to make people happy!

      People used to be happy that Minnesota was an above-average place to live!

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/26/2013 - 12:46 pm.

    Democratic governor bad for business??

    Top quintile of GDP growth. Bottom quintile of unemployment rates. Hard facts to argue against.

    Obamacare repeal?

    After 4 years from that passage of the act, you really need to have developed some alternatives to address the issues that led to the passage of Obamacare. If you don’t have practical alternatives after all these years, then just shut up about it–it’s cleat that either Obamacare is the answer or you don’t really know or care about the issues.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/26/2013 - 05:19 pm.

      You don’t get it

      People who don’t believe the government should be running our health care system don’t have to offer an alternative bureaucratic government-run solution.

      The republican “alternative” is … you buy your own health insurance. How’s that.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/26/2013 - 08:40 pm.

        And what is the health-care exchange all about?

        Private citizens buying private healthcare insurance from private providers that will allow them access to their own private doctors. The buying pools are just supersisized customer pools–decreasing costs and increasing negotiating and buying power.

        And no matter what, we ARE currently paying for the health-care of uninsured through expensive, inefficient back-door means.

        Those truths haven’t changed in 4 years (or 40 years).

      • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 08/26/2013 - 09:44 pm.

        How’s that? Not effective.

        If you want a country that spends double (share of GDP) what similar countries do on health care, with worse health outcomes, by all means keep with that “free market” “solution”.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/27/2013 - 10:03 am.

        If so . . .

        Let’s hear the Republican defense of the status quo. Let’s hear them say that everything is fine with the American health care system.

        Or let’s hear them take some of the unfunny joke positions that get floated by some (unfunny only because they are meant to be taken seriously) Let’s hear someone in the mainstream tell us about unlinking health insurance and employment. Let’s hear about complete deregulation of health care. Let’s hear about trading chickens for medical services.

        The Republicans don’t talk about their “alternatives” because they know how hopelessly unpopular they would be. All their talk about health care is designed only to stoke some incipient rage against the President. It doesn’t matter why the base is mad. All that matters is that they are voting Republican. The policy is unimportant.

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/29/2014 - 01:14 pm.

        Roll your own healthcare? Don’t need an alternative.

        If the Repub alternate “plan” to the system just now in place, is to buy your own healthcare:

        Are the Republican candidates lying to us when they say
        they want to keep some aspect of the current system?

  5. Submitted by David Broden on 08/26/2013 - 04:53 pm.

    Making the Election Cycle a Statement for MN Future

    Does anyone have a vision for the future of Mn other than cut spending, reduce taxes, or raise taxes and spend more. The comments I outlined in the prior email seem to not have rung the bell of serious voters. I all see is whining regarding both poltical sides– lets have a debate about how to build a better Minnesota. How do we get candidates that think that way– Minnesotans want serious leadership – i hope some will re-read the comments in the prior submtall and join the discussion.

    DAve Broden–Broden Broden

  6. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 08/26/2013 - 09:42 pm.

    Hard to notice something that didn’t happen

    “Have you noticed that the unemployment rate climbed nonstop until the Republicans took over Congress and stopped the reckless spending… and then we saw the rate slowly drop?”

    The US unemployment rate peaked in October 2009, 15 months before the Republicans took over the House, not the full Congress. The recession ended in June 2009, 19 months before Republicans took control of the House. Federal expenditures as a share of GDP peaked in the second quarter of 2010, 9 months before the Republicans took partial control of Congress. So, no, it wasn’t noticed, since what you describe didn’t happen.

    Federal spending spiked during Reagan’s recession as well, at levels similar to those under Obama.

    “For example, one of the stimulus bills was “Cash for Clunkers” that would save Detroit.”

    It was designed to “save Detroit”? Odd, because I can’t find a single document on the White House website for the phrases “cash for clunkers” and “save Detroit”. This is what its actual purpose was:

    “to shift expenditures by households, businesses, and governments from the future to the present. (Other programs with the same motivation include support for bringing forward future infrastructure investments, and accelerated depreciation to bring forward business investment.) Such time-shifting is valuable in a recession, when the economy has an abundance of unemployed resources that can be put to work at low net economic cost; even conservative economists such as Martin Feldstein, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) under President Reagan, have endorsed this logic for stimulus spending.”

    No one reputable claimed that a $3 billion slice of stimulus would be a cure-all for Detroit or the $14-15 trillion economy as a whole.

    “The stimulus bills have had little stimulus effect.”

    You realize that 37% of the stimulus was tax incentives, right? So what you’re saying is that tax cuts don’t help the economy.

    The CBO’s analysis is here:

    You can see they estimate +0.4-1.8 percentage point bump in GDP in 2009, followed by +0.7-4.1 in 2010, then lower to +0.4-2.3 in 2011 and so on. Similar pattern with unemployment rates.

    The per capita real dollar deficit peaked in July 2009, and was down 34% from that peak by the time Republicans took over 1/2 of Congress in January 2011 – 18 months later.

    That’s what actually happened.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/27/2013 - 07:07 am.

      How Come

      Neither the White House nor the Obama campaign never talked about “the Obama tax cuts”?

      With such inept messaging, it’s a wonder those guys got re-elected.

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