Vowing to move the state “not left, not right, but forward,” the state Independence Party on Saturday endorsed former Minneapolis schools superintendent Peter Hutchinson for governor.
Hutchinson garnered 250 of the 277 delegates on the first ballot, easily defeating Pam Ellison, an education assistant at Arlington High School in St. Paul.
Also endorsed were members of Hutchinson’s Team Minnesota: University of Minnesota Regent Maureen Reed for lieutenant governor, former state revenue commissioner John James for attorney general, Brooklyn Park economic development director Joel Spoonheim for secretary of state, and Minneapolis deputy police chief Lucy Gerold for state auditor. Robert Fitzgerald, a public television administrator, got the nod for U.S. Senate; travel executive Tammy Lee was endorsed for Congress in the Fifth District; and John Binkowski, a construction manager, for Congress in the Sixth District.
The unique convention, which was held at St. Paul’s Midway Stadium and included a free pass to the baseball game, attracted the largest number of delegates in party history, which made for a festive occasion despite the threat of rain that loomed over the stadium for most of the afternoon.
In his acceptance speech, Hutchinson stressed his ability to focus on four major areas that he contends the Democrats and Republicans have ignored in recent years: health care, transportation, the environment, and education. “Our state has been hijacked by the partisan extremes and we’re here to take it back,” he said.
Hutchinson will face DFL endorsee Mike Hatch, the Green Party’s Ken Pentel, and incumbent Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the November general election.