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Posted by on Oct 17, 2010 in Politics | 0 comments

Minnesota’s Largest Paper Endorses Independent Tom Horner for Governor

Here in the North Star State, people on the center right tend to joke about the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota’s largest newspaper. We call it the “Red Star” because it tends to be a liberal paper and tends to endorse liberal candidates.

Well today, the “Red Star” has shocked everyone not just by not endorsing a Democrat for governor, but by endorsing a third-party candidate and a former Republican no-less.

Today, the Star Tribune endorsed businessman and former GOP strategist Tom Horner for Governor of Minnesota. He is running on the centrist Independence Party ticket. The editorial is full of strong affirming words for the 60-year-old including the strongest words one can give a candidate: “We urge his election.”

The two major party candidates for Governor, Republican Tom Emmer and Democrat Mark Dayton, are at the extremes in their parties. Emmer has run on a “no new taxes” agenda that would slash state services and Dayton has run on a “tax the rich” agenda that will come nowhere near the money needed to save the state from financial ruin.

The Star Tribune has not been pleased with either candidate, but has been pleased with Horner, who didn’t simply run on the usual centrist “I’m-not-like-the-other-candidates” mantra, but provided clear solutions to the state’s problems.

Here is a sample of what the Star Tribune wrote:

Affable but serious-minded, Horner has run a professional, positive campaign that reveals solid preparation for the office he seeks. He’s attracted an impressive list of bipartisan endorsements from thoughtful Minnesotans, buttressing his claim to be a uniter and a problem-solver.

Horner’s plan for erasing the big budget deficit that’s been forecast for 2012-13 is sound — and while not as complete as it will need to be next January, it compares favorably with the ideas advanced by both Dayton and Emmer.

Horner recognizes that it’s past time to ease the “no new taxes” inflexibility that has paralyzed efforts to restore fiscal stability to government since it was lost in the big tax cuts of 1999-2001. Emmer, by comparison, seems willing to tear big holes in the safety net for the poor, disinvest in higher education and widen regional disparities around the state in order to avoid raising any state tax.

But Horner also sees that there are less destructive ways to stabilize state finances than to give Minnesota one of the nation’s highest top-bracket personal income tax rates, as Dayton aims to do.

Horner’s blend of an expanded sales tax base, higher cigarette taxes and a cap on income tax deductions that advantage upper-income earners would not punish the middle class. He’s proposing $350 million in measures to lighten the burden of the sales tax increase on Minnesotans of modest means. But his plan wouldn’t try to exempt the middle class, either, as Dayton’s claims to do.

In other words, Horner intends to invoke something fundamental to Minnesota’s 152-year success story, something that has been eroding in recent years — a sense that Minnesotans are all in this together. He stands for neither “soak the rich” nor “sink the poor” (which is what “no new taxes” increasingly means). He wants wide participation, both in the costs of solving the budget problem and in the benefits from investing strategically in the public goods — education, research, infrastructure, health care reform — that will form a foundation for widely shared prosperity in years to come.

I’ve personally supported Horner because he represents a dying tradition among Minnesota Republicans: a desire for good, efficient and cost -effective government. Tom Emmer represents a party that seems interested in catchy slogans, but not in trying to make sure that government is doing what it can to lift people up at a reasonable cost. Mark Dayton wants only the rich to foot the bill instead of seeing that all Minnesotans must take part in making this state great.

I would have loved if Horner stayed in the GOP and challenged Emmer, but maybe this was the wiser route. Americans are wanting something beyond the partisan rhetoric and hackery. They want a viable third party option and Horner gives them that.

So, huzzah for Tom Horner’s endorsement, not only from the Star Tribune, but from the Duluth News Tribune and the Fargo Forum.

Go Horner!

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