First debate: Governor candidates attack each otherST. PAUL — Minnesota’s governor race launched explosively Friday night as the three major candidates argued loudly in their initial debate, often not letting each other finish answers.
By: Don Davis, Worthington Daily Globe
Republican Tom Emmer blasted Democrat Mark Dayton for being involved in government much of his career.
“I have actually been working outside government,” Emmer told Dayton.
Dayton strongly complained that Emmer has not said how he would balance a $6 billion budget deficit, but seems to want to only cut the state budget.
“Where is the $6 billion in cuts going to come from?” he asked.
Horner responded with what appears to be a standard line he will deliver in the next 81 days of the campaign.
“Neither of you is going to get the other side to work with you,” he said, adding that he provides a middle ground.
But Horner also was involved in the fighting.
“May I finish?” Dayton asked at one point when Horner continued to talk.
“No, you may not,” Horner replied.
During the hour-long Twin Cities Public Television “Almanac” debate, hosted by Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer, the three candidates frequently talked over another candidate’s answer.
The debate provided proof that the candidates have irreconcilable differences and set the stage for a raucous general election campaign.
Emmer, 49, has been a state legislator serving the Delano area since 2005. He is a lawyer and served on two city councils.
Dayton, 63, entered Minnesota politics 35 years ago. He has been a U.S. senator, state auditor and state economic development commissioner. He lives in Minneapolis.
Horner, 60, was a Republican public relations executive until he opted to become the Independence Party governor candidate. He is a Minneapolis native who lives in Edina.
Emmer and Horner faced easy primary election contests, but Dayton won a narrow victory over House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Voters will pick among the three, and four minor party candidates, in the Nov. 2 general election.
Minnesota’s governor is paid $120,303 annually, but to get that paycheck the combined campaigns will spend millions of dollars.
Dayton already has dumped about $3 million of his own money into the campaign, but he said this week that he must work to raise funds. He often has said that he does not like that part of being a candidate.
Emmer has given few specifics about his plans for the state so far, saying he needs to meet with Minnesotans before firming up proposals. He stumbled early last month when it took 10 days to clear up a controversy about whether tips should be taxed as wages.
Just before the primary election his rookie campaign manager was replaced by Cullen Sheehan, who managed Norm Coleman’s Senate campaign two years ago.
Emmer is on the right wing of the Republican Party.
Dayton, meanwhile, is on the political left. He wants to raise income taxes on couples earning at least $150,000 a year and raise property taxes on richer Minnesotans.
On Friday, several DFL-leaning union that had supported other candidates endorsed Dayton. Earlier in the week, DFL leaders who supported Kelliher and Matt Entenza pledged in the primary to work for Dayton.
Horner is trying to tell voters that he is in the middle politically.
That is the same campaign theme used by other Independence candidates, but only Jesse Ventura (in what then was the Reform Party) has succeeded in the party.
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.