The Independence Party has played a critical role in the last three elections for governor of Minnesota. In 1998, Jesse Ventura came from nowhere to win the corner office. In 2002, Democrat-turned-Indepdendent Tim Penny attracted enough DFL voters to get Tim Pawlenty elected governor. And the same could be said for Peter Hutchinson’s 2006 bid for governor.
So it’s possible — even likely — that the IP will influence this election, too. Will it be as a spoiler? Or as a winner.
MPR’s Midday is featuring the three IP candidates for governor for Rob Hahn, John Uldrich, and Tom Horner today.
Who you are
Rob Hahn – Resident of Winona and a true outsider. I offer not just an alternative, I’m going to set forth why I’m a better alternative.
Tom Horner – I bring 30 years of business and public policy. I also bring an extensive political network and that’s what it’s going to take to win.
John Uldrich – Native Minnesotan. Business began in 1960. My specialty is creating jobs and I’ve been doing this all my corporate life.
Q: Will you run in the primary if you don’t get the party’s endorsement this weekend?
All three said “yes”.
Q: What do IP delegates need to know about you?
Horner – I have the stature to win. I have the political network to go toe-to-toe with the Republican and DFLer. It’s going to take $2 million to win. I offer combination of expertise in public policy and the ability to mount a winning campaign.
Uldrich – They need to understand there’s going to be a lot of pain out there. Everything is on the table to be cut. On the positive side is the creation of jobs. I have experience in business on an international level.
Hahn: I’m the most electable. The only candidate who’s won as a third-party candidate is the true outsider. They know when a Republican is masquerading as an independent (a shot at Horner). I’m a true independent.
Q: Republican Tom Emmer said if he’s elected, he’ll cut state spending by a third. As a percentage, how much would you cut?
Hahn: At least 8 and closer to 15 percent. But we have to beyond that. We have to do it with a combination of cuts. We have to look at tax reform. I would support an additional income tax on the uber rich. I favor riverboat gambling and a “fat tax” on fast food.
Uldrich: As governor, I will take a 20 percent pay cut. I don’t even know what the governor makes. Anyone who is an appointee, they’ll have to take a 20-percent pay cut. That’s the figure that is realistic. One-third isn’t possible.
Horner – Minnesota is tired of slick answers and evasiveness from politicians. The fact is the state has a 20-percent shortfall. We cannot solve the budget shortfall with budget cuts alone without devastating Minnesota. Minnesota is the largest purchaser of health care. We can fix how we purchase it and save $750 million in doing it. We cannot continue to think that every problem has a government solution.
Q: (Brian from Winona calling) What do you propose for K-12?
Uldrich: We have to try to maintain and improve our educational standards. It is going to be a tough call. Everybody is going to have to get into the trenches and work harder, think smarter, and try to take advantage of any economies that come through IT/electronic area. There’s going to be less money available for K-12.
Horner: I disagree with that. The budget shortfall doesn’t automatically mean we put less money in education. We need to say more money isn’t the answer; we need smarter money. We have to change structure of K-12. It’s structured around clocks and calendars. June comes and a student is done. If the student gets a “C”, that’s enough to move on. We need to invest more money in early childhood education and we need to make sure they’re leaving 12th grade ready for success. We need more money in research at the University of Minnesota and have a tax credit. Recommends moving more money from the institution to the students. We need more honest conversation with the unions.
Hahn: The cost of higher education is out of control. Need partnerships between higher education and local businesses. Re: K-12: More performance pay for teachers. We need to phase out the tenure system. We have to look at charter schools that are working. The governor is going to have to work with Education Minnesota. Tom Dooher, the head of Education Minnesota, needs to recognize that he represents teachers, not just himself. (This is the ad he’s referring to.)
Q: Would you favor an Arizona-style immigration law?
Horner: Absolutely not. It’s a law that addresses a political need. Do we as Minnesotans need to make sure we are providing opportunities for legal immigrants? Absolutely. But you don’t sacrifice constitutional rights for the sake of driving a political agenda.
Hahn: It’s not only a joke, it’s a bad one. I’m embarrassed. We need to look at an immigration bill that allows those who are here illegally to have a certain amount of time to file papers to become citizens. We have to tighten our borders and remember this country was founded on the backs of immigrants.
Uldrich: It’s a horrible proposition. But I understand the force that allowed the governor to put the bill into effect and get the support she’s getting. This a step toward a despotic, Nazi-based concept.
Q: (Online question) I voted for Peter Hutchinson because of his policy. His personality didn’t carry the day. Will you withdraw if it’s obvious you can’t win in the general election?
Hahn: No. I don’t believe polls. Look at Jesse Ventura.
Uldrich: I’ll hang in there with creating jobs.
Horner: No, I’m in this to win. This is the question — Is a vote for an IP candidate a spoiler vote. I think it’s the Democratic and Republican parties that have spoiled things. It wasn’t a lack of personality. Peter was running in a year when there were two very skilled politicians and an incumbent. That incumbent was able to shut off a lot of exposure opportunity for Peter Hutchinson.
Q: (Caller Sean) If you had to endorse one of the candidates — Kelliher or Emmer — which would it be?
Uldrich: In good conscience, I couldn’t endorse either one.
Horner: I’m not even certain Speaker Kelliher is going to win the nomination. But I didn’t get in the race and then all of a sudden wake up one morning with the opportunity to run against Tom Emmer, or a candidate on the far left. I got into it with the presumption that the Democrat would march to the left and the Republican would march off to the right.
(Bob notes: That’s a sucker question. The minute a candidate answered it, one political party would’ve been cranking out a press release.)
Hahn and Horner spar. Hahn says Horner speaks in platitudes. “This is a man who has been tied to Republicans for years. His firm benefitted from a contract in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse. It was a job for the Pawlenty administration to clean up its image.”
“Rob knows better than that,” Horner countered. That contract had nothing to do with Gov. Pawlenty. If you go to those businesspeople, community, people affected by construction of the bridge and ask ‘was the fast-track option successful?’ to a person they would say ‘yes.'”
Horner criticizes Hahn’s riverboat gambling idea and says the state should not be increasing the amount of its revenue from gambling. He also says the “fat tax” is a great idea, unless you run a fast food restaurant.
“I haven’t heard any ideas here for how we raise revenue,” Hahn countered.
Q: Are any changes needed in abortion laws?
Uldrich: The law has been written. If people want to change the law, I’ll respect their willingness to do battle.
Horner: We have to be focused on reducing the number of abortions, but not through the laws Minnesota has passed that harass women and doctors. Make sure women have access to contraception.
Hahn: Abortion is a federal issue. But I’m pro-life. It starts with protecting the living, such as more stem cell research.
Q: Would you support public funding for a Vikings stadium?
Hahn: I’d leave it up to the county. I would support state public money as long as there’s revenue sharing on the back end.
Uldrich: I don’t think it’s going to get out of the system in the next two weeks. Would I support it? No, I couldn’t support any movement of tax dollars to support the Vikings at this point in time.
Horner: This is the issue where the governor needs to step up. The Vikings are an important asset in Minnesota’s quality of life and need to be preserved. We should look at financing schemes that are responsible and fair. If state investment is the only way to get it done, we’re going to have to figure out how to do that.
Q: Realistically, how much money will you be able to raise to run a campaign?
Uldrich: “I’ll raise in the half-million-dollar range.”
Hahn: Looking to raise between $500,000 and $1 million. It’s preposterous to spend more for an office that pays $137,000 a year.
Horner: It’s not reckless spending to engage in a campaign that allows a candidate to speak to the people of Minnesota. I’m confident I can raise $2 million.
Hahn: Voters are going to have a clear-cut choice. They can vote either for a Republican, even one on the IP ticket, or a Democrat. If voters want someone who’ll bring the same-old same-old, they’ll have plenty of choices. If they want someone who can lead, I’m the choice.
Horner: The Independence Party is going to have to grow to be a viable force. That’s going to take Republicans, Democrats and independents.
Uldrich: Jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs. That’s my skill set. I also understand the state, nation, and global macroeconomic dynamics that are involved. We’ve got some horrific problems. The oil spill is one of them and I’m working on a Minnesota solution.