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Lieutenant governor candidate Kuisle visits Worthington

WORTHINGTON — The running mate for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson believes he and Johnson offer a “unique ticket” that will appeal to a strong cross-section of Minnesotans.

Former state representative Bill Kuisle, who paid a visit Thursday afternoon to the Daily Globe, described how he and Johnson — who received the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor last month — have abilities and experience that complement each other well.

“Jeff grew up in Detroit Lakes, in Greater Minnesota, and went to college in Moorhead and is now in the metro area,” Kuisle said. “He served six years in the state legislature and is presently a Hennepin County commissioner.

“I was up in the state legislature from 1996 to 2004. I’m from Rochester, and represented basically two-thirds of Olmsted County. I come from a farm background … and I spent two years as the House Finance Committee chair, and also worked on the tax and ways and means committees. I think my background in those help balance the ticket as to what’s needed in the state to move it forward and keep it competitive.”

Minnesota’s Republican primary, scheduled for Aug. 12, will also feature Scott Honour, Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers as gubernatorial candidates. While Kuisle believes his ticket and Seifert’s will each have appeal to rural Minnesotans, he said the Johnson campaign is not just focusing on one region.

“We represent the whole state and we want to make sure we reach out and cover the whole state,” Kuisle said.

“Each area of the state is different — you have Greater Minnesota, regional centers, you have small towns, and you have the agriculture sector.”

“Then there’s the northern part of the state that’s different with its taconite mining and tourism … and then there’s the Red River Valley, and that’s different, too,” Kuisle continued.

One issue Kuisle believes to be foremost in the gubernatorial campaign is the state’s job climate. Business taxes have risen across the state, he noted, and while some of those increases have been repealed, “there is concern that some of those will come back in the future.”

A higher tax bracket for wealthier Minnesotans also is worrisome, Kuisle added.

“That’s going to scare a lot of people out of the state,” he said. “Greater Minnesota is trying to attract people to create businesses and then stay here, and that’s going to be very hard with that upper income tax bracket so high — especially when you have neighboring states with no income taxes.”

Kuisle also spoke of a need to relax regulations that in many cases harm businesses and result in excess costs.

“Right now the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is pushing what they call a dish rule, in order to gain more control of water and where it runs off from,” he said, also indicating that rising property tax rates for ag land is the most important issue for farmers. “I’ve been working with a couple of different farm groups to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Added Kuisle later: “What you’ve seen over the last 30 or 40 years — and probably accelerated in the last 10 or 15 years — is more regulation coming in that (road construction) industry, with the need for storm retention ponds and wetlands placements. … We couldn’t have built I-90 with today’s rules and regulations.

“We need to back up and see what’s really needed, and not over-regulate and not build roads because of the prices we’re seeing.

Another contentious subject is MNsure, which Kuisle expects will remain part of the Minnesota landscape for the time being.

“Democrats are going to be in control of the Senate, so that (repeal) is not going to be an option,” he said. “We want to see people who already have good health insurance be able to keep it. The big thing is that you have uninsured people, and you’re completely screwing up everyone else’s health insurance to make sure they’re insured. And then, the insurance those people are getting, it’s not even that great — and it’s not even that affordable when you have the high deductibles.”

Should Johnson and Kuisle emerge in the GOP primary and ultimately knock off incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton in November, Kuisle believes a new administration in St. Paul will be able to work well with the legislature.

“One of the nicest things about Jeff is that he doesn’t come across as a scary person — he comes across as reaching across,” Kuisle said.

“One of reasons he brought me on was my experience working across the aisle. I do know how to do that, and Jeff appreciates that.”

Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey may be reached at 376-7320.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

(507) 376-7320