GOP governor candidates seek votesST. PAUL — Eight Minnesota Republican governor candidates agreed there is no need to raise taxes to fix the state budget deficit, but in front of 550 party activists Friday night each offered his own reason to get party support.
By: Don Davis, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL — Eight Minnesota Republican governor candidates agreed there is no need to raise taxes to fix the state budget deficit, but in front of 550 party activists Friday night each offered his own reason to get party support.
Friday night’s debate preceded today’s convention, a St Paul gathering of state Republican activists that would be routine except for a straw poll to determine who they like for governor 14 months before the next election.
The most emotional comments in Friday night’s forum came from Rep, Tom Emmer, a Delano state representative known for his passionate speeches on the House floor.
“It’s about passion,” he said of the governor’s race. “Who can inspire, who can ignite Minnesotans to follow the Republican principle?
If Emmer was the most passionate, Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall received the most applause.
“We need someone who is principled, who has leadership and someone who is electable,” he said during a statement interrupted by applause several times.
Seifert promoted his policy of taking no money from lobbyists, saying that would keep him away from obligations to them.
Pat Anderson of Dellwood emphasized her background as state auditor and commissioner. She reminded Republicans that she has shrunken two state agencies and said the state should only provide “essential services ... and get rid of the rest.”
She pledged to change local government aid, although said some small communities need the state financial help the program provides.
LGA needs to be “downsized,” she said.
Former Rep. Bill Haas of Champlin said he has passed more legislation than any other candidate, and led more legislative committees.
“I can get the job done because I always have,” he said.
Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie said education is at the top of state government’s priority list.
“There is nothing more important than education in this state,” he said.
Minnesota students learn too little about history and other basic subjects, he added.
Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria promoted his “significant business” experience as a lawyer and insurance company executive.
Kohls took credit for the first legislative proposal calling for no new spending, much like what happened when Gov. Tim Pawlenty cut the state budget on his own after the Legislature adjourned in May.
He promised to promote a plan to freeze spending at the 2004-2005 level.
Leslie Davis of Minneapolis, an environmentalist that most Republican activists say does not fit into the party, was the only candidate who said he would not abide by next April’s state convention endorsement. Instead, he would challenge the convention’s winner in a primary election.
“Don’t underestimate me,” he said.
Phil Herwig of Milaca said that Pawlenty has not been conservative enough as governor. Other Republicans have not, either, he said.
GOP candidates get elected “and nothing happens at all,” he declared.
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.