It was a good weekend for Tom Horner, the Indepedence Party candidate for governor. He picked up endorsements from editorial boards in some of Minnesota’s biggest papers, including the dailies in Duluth and Minneapolis. Less surprising is Tarryl Clark’s endorsement over incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann by the St. Cloud Times: that paper endorsed the last Democrat to take on Bachmann, Elwyn Tinklenberg, in 2008.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune hinted at a Horner endorsement in mid-September, but followed through on it Sunday in a glowing piece that hailed his centrism and bipartisanship as useful during tough times when “stalemate and drift could prove not merely disappointing but disastrous.” The paper contrasts Horner’s budget proposals, a “blend of an expanded sales tax base, higher cigarette taxes and a cap on income tax deductions that advantage upper-income earners,” with those of Democrat Mark Dayton — who wants to raise taxes on the highest earners in Minnesota — and Republican Tom 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,” the editorial reads. “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.”
The paper credits Dayton’s “sincerity” and “depth” as a public servant, but questions whether he can “rally support for his ideas outside DFL ranks.” Its critique of Emmer is more pointed — about Emmer and the state of the current Minnesota GOP:
That a candidate of Horner’s caliber is running on the Independence Party ticket, rather than in the Republican Party in which he planted his political roots, is but the latest indication that the Minnesota GOP left a sizable cadre of its best and brightest behind as it shifted to the right in the last two decades.
Emmer’s nomination says much about today’s Minnesota Republican Party. He was a bombastic, ultraconservative legislator for six years, seldom close to major decisionmaking. Though he has toned down his rhetoric as this campaign has progressed, he does not demonstrate executive-level knowledge of the enterprise he aspires to lead.
Horner also got the nod from several papers owned by Fargo-based Forum Communications, a chain that historically has dictated endorsements from the home office. Forum’s Bemidji Pioneer, Duluth News Tribune, Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, West Central Tribune (Willmar) and the Worthington Daily Globe all backed Horner. Forum CEO William Marcil has a long history of donating largely to GOP candidates, but a look at Federal Election Commission filings shows he hasn’t given directly to candidates in recent years.
Common themes among the Forum editorials: Dayton is “too liberal,” “extremely liberal,” and “arguably the most liberal politician in the state,” while Emmer is an “ultraconservative” “darling” of the tea party who “represents the far right wing.” Horner, the editorials go, is right in the middle.
In the Sixth Congressional District race, it was Democrat Tarryl Clark who picked up the endorsement of the St. Cloud Times. “Sadly, after four years in office, Michele Bachmann has proved with unabashed consistency that serving 6th District constituents is essentially her last priority,” the paper’s editorial board writes.
In 2008, the paper picked DFLer Tinklenberg, noting that Bachmann “has simply made too many serious errors in judgment to deserve a second term.” And in 2009, the paper criticized Bachmann’s accomplishments. Yesterday’s editorial continues, suggesting little has changed in the past year:
This board in April of 2009 wrote off Bachmann’s desire to serve the voters who elect her.
We cited then three years worth of her rash, ridiculous, unsubstantiated, misleading and fear-mongering statements about national issues. We also noted — and this is important — her lack of any realistic solutions. In the 19 months since then, Bachmann has only refined an age-old political recipe: mix equal parts of fear and blame that raise your personal profile yet yield only sound bites, not solutions.
She does it so effectively (and relentlessly) that she’s become a grass-roots tea party heroine even while supporting a public policy agenda that helps entities that are anything but grass roots. Best example: In the wake of America’s financial collapse, do you really think Bachmann’s push to leave Wall Street alone was in the best interests of 6th District voters?
Also, look districtwide and we challenge you to find something — anything — that Bachmann has helped achieve or a cause she has helped advance. Much like her legislative ideas, we see nothing of substance.