Fireworks at the first post primary debate

The three candidates for Minnesota governor participated in the first post-primary debate tonight and it got feisty. Democrat Mark Dayton, Republican Tom Emmer and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner took part in a debate hosted by Twin Cities Public Television. The candidates sparred over tax policy and the best way to solve the state’s nearly 6-billion dollar projected budget deficit. Emmer said he won’t support tax increases to balance the budget.

“You need to make all of Minnesota competitive,” Emmer said. “You have to lower taxes and have regulatory reform so you can create business all over Minnesota.”

But Dayton said Emmer hasn’t outlined how he’d balance the budget without raising taxes.

“You’ve been in the Legislature for all of these years under Governor Pawlenty, a conservative Republcian governor,” Dayton said. “You’re basically saying that there’s $6 billion of waste and excess in his operating budget that you can identify and remove and nobody is going to notice the difference.”

Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners to balance the budget.

The IP’s Horner wants to lower the state’s sales tax rate but expand it to clothing and services. He repteadly tried to portray himself as a viable alternative to Emmer and Dayton.

“Representative Emmer talks about the status quo, he’s right,” Horner said. “But all we hear over here is ‘Let’s just cut the status quo and everything will be better” and from the other side it’s ‘let’s just make the status quo bigger and everything will be better.’ I believe most of us in Minnesota are saying we need something different than the status quo.”

You can listen to the full debate here:

All three candidates will participate in another debate on Saturday. They’ll be at Game Fair in Anoka.

  • Rudy

    I did not realize Senator Dayton had it in him to be aggressive/passionate in defending his policies. He did good, but will have to do better to actually expose the ambiguity in Rep. Emmer’s lack of candor and specifics in is policy. Dayton should keep hammering on that and force Emmer to reveal specifics, not soundbites.

    If you like good political soundbites with out any meat on the bone, Emmer is your man. Can’t honestly say I heard him put a dollar amount to any of the “efficiencies” his policies would result in. I did not hear any specifics from Emmer. Although he did give good soundbite.

    Tom Horner seemed like the adult in the room. He remained quiet as the viewers watched Emmer and Dayton talk past each other as they squabbled. Horner showed passion when defending his proposals. Horner had the opportunity to point out the bickering between Dayton and Emmer. And he contrasted himself as an alternative to the other two competing ideologies that talked past each other much the night. Horner did a good job highlighting that and made points when he actually presented policy proposals and specifics.

    Horner wins round one……..