Matt Entenza: Leading with a green economy


by Grace Kelly | March 27, 2009 • Matt Entenza is one of the leading candidates for governor. Matt was the leader of the House Democrats, in the toughest of times. Recently, Matt created the progressive think tank, Minnesota 2020, to very effectively influence the Minnesota political conversation. Matt’s stands on issues are clearly positive, proactive, practical and progressive.

Minnesota Progressive Project is the result of the merger between Minnesota Campaign Report and MN Blue, with common goals of providing a go-to source for online progressive politics in Minnesota.

Matt Entenza believes that Minnesota can be great in opportunity, in education, in health care, in a growing green economy and in taking care of each other as a community.

My family came here after the civil war. They came here to try to build a better life for the next generation, for me, the great great grandson of a civil war veteran. And you know what- they built a incredible state, they built a state that believed that every young person in this state should have an opportunity!

Matt Entenza withdrew from the Attorney General’s race when Mike Hatch created a controversy over being researched by Matt Entenza. In retrospect, researching and vetting all Democratic candidates, after Al Franken’s lack of vetting, looks like a grand positive idea. The only other possible susceptibility is that Matt’s wife once worked for a major health care insurance company. I believe that this issue will not have traction since Matt is taking a very proactive health care stance.

Personally, Matt Entenza has been my neighbor for years. I had a sign on my door that said “No solicitation, friends only”. So Matt Entenza campaigned at my door, by saying, “Hi, I would like to be your friend!” Personally, Matt is quiet, reserved and responsible. Matt has always been trustworthy. My neighborhood likes him. Contrast this with Norm Coleman’s neighborhood, where many neighbors do not have good things to say.

Above all, Matt Entenza stands out as the political leader who has made the most influence in the political discussion, through Minnesota 2020 .

Minnesota 2020 is a progressive, non-partisan think tank, focused on what really matters. …Minnesota 2020 delivers accurate policy research with a focus on smart, effective progressive messaging through a multi-media platform. We are framing Minnesota’s public policy debate. Through our communications strategy, we’ve compelled legislative and executive branch policy change. We link academic and traditional foundation research to achieve tangible, demonstrable solutions.

Minnesota 2020 consistently provides surveys and studies that make quotable news for mainstream media. The survey of school superintendents was brilliant in telling the real political story:

A recent Minnesota 2020 survey of 177 school district superintendents shows 85 percent of districts must have operating levies to stay afloat; 35 percent without an operating levy will be forced to go to voters within three years; 96 percent said the way schools are funded is bad for education and 88 percent said if things don’t change, education will get worse.


Question: What are the three most importing goals that you hope to accomplish as governor?

Best Quote:

Clean technology is way forward. And it is not only the right thing to do because it is the right thing for our environment. It is the right thing to do because one or two states will become the leaders in the green economy and that should be us!

Summary: Matt Entenza would grow jobs through becoming the “silicon valley” leader in green energy and clean technology. Education is the best way to provide opportunity. Minnesota should ensure that health care is provided for all, not just that health care insurance is provided for all.


Question: What makes you stand out in a crowd of candidates for governor?

Best Quote:

I am going to focus like a laser beam on the green economy.


Question: What motivates you to put in this tremendous effort into running for governor?

Best Quote:

When I was 15, I lost my father to alcoholism. We lost our home, it was foreclosed upon. And we wound up moving in with my grandmother. And had no health insurance. I know what that was like. And I know a lot of people are going through that right now.

Value Differences between Democrats and Republicans

Question: Without citing any issues, can you describe the value differences between Democrats and Republicans?

Best Quote:

Values of the Democratic Party … when we all do better, we all do better. And that we are part of a community. And that when you start leaving someone behind in the community, it is not about a matter of saying “Well, that’s their fault”. It’s that we all don’t do as well when we start leaving people behind.

Governor Pawlenty’s Fatal Flaw

Question: What would you consider Governor Tim Pawlenty’s fatal flaw to be?

Best Quote:

Having grown up poor in Minnesota, we didn’t have a lot of resources when I was a kid. But I had great public schools. I had an opportunity to go to the University of Minnesota law school. And no one in my family had ever done anything like become lawyer before.


Question: What do you think about the current environment quality of Minnesota? How would you improve this?

Best Quote:

We are the land of 10,000 lakes. Of course, we are so modest in Minnesota that we actually have 30,000 lakes. But we say 10,000 on the license plates.

Summary: Matt Entenza’s plan is to move away from fossil fuels and into alternate energies, enforce enviromental law and fully fund parks.


Question: Does clean coal exist? Would you consider nuclear energy? What types of renewable sustainable energy would you support?

Best Quote:

We should be building the wind turbines, here in Minnesota! We should be building the solar panels, here in Minnesota!Health Care

Question: What role will health care insurance companies play in your health care plan?

Best Quote and Complete Text:

As leader of the house Democrats in 2005, I had a group of women come to me, who couldn’t get their cancer treatment. They were on Minnesota Care and they were told because of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s polices that they had a choice to make: they could either go bankrupt and lose their jobs, so they could get Medicaid OR they were going to have to not get the cancer treatment that they needed for breast cancer, other types of cancers. I had a choice to make then. I could have said that we’ll blame the governor and we’ll blame those policies. But instead Dean Johnson, the senate leader, and I said we are going to make ensure that our priority is people, not insurance companies not conservative polices that say it is someone else’s fault when they don’t have insurance. We had a government shut down. It was tough! It was painful! But you know what – tens of thousands of people got their health insurance back because my priority was about people and as governor. My priority is very clear, Medicare for all! Medicare is the gold standard. It is a standard that is not dominated – actually 85% of Medicare is not related to any insurance companies whatsoever. I believe that is the part that we need to replicate. The people who will advise me on health care are people like those women, women who came down and said “who is going to stand up for us?” And I am six foot five and I am proud that I stood up for them.

Negative Ads

Question: How would you handle negative ads, particularly those targeted at your wife?

Best Quote:

We should be focused on how we should move the state forward.


Question: Are you going to run an endorsement race? Will you honor the endorsement? Will you go negative against other DFL candidates?

Best Quote:

I am very proud of the fact that that I have always run positive races with other Democrats.

Campaign Financing

Question: The governor campaign may spend as much as the previous senate campaign. Are you going to raise that kind of money? How do you plan to do it? Are you going to use your own money?

Summary: In the last election, Governor Pawlenty said that he would not abide by limits. The Democratic candidate should not be held by a limit that the Republican candidate will not abide by. So Matt Entenza plans to aggressively raise funds.

Tax Fairness

Question: Are the richest paying the same overall Minnesota tax rate as the poorest? How could taxes be made more fair?

Best Quote:

Ronald Reagan said that fee is a three letter word for taxes.

Summary: Fees are a tax burden. Taxes ought to be allocated so that the burden of taxes is more on the wealthy than on average families. Studies show that more of the tax burden has been shifting from the wealthy to average families.


Question: How would you bring more jobs to Minnesota?

Best Quote:

What conservative policies have done to Minnesota is shrink the size of our economy. Tim Pawlenty, by the end of his eight years as governor, will probably acutally have a negative job growth rate. Previous governors have all seen the number of jobs increase. And you can’t succeed as a state, unless you are growing the number of jobs and growing the income, of people who have those jobs. I believe the way forward is the green economy.


Question: What could we do for returning veterans that we are currently not doing?

Summary: Veterans should have a Minnesota GI bill that provides access to education. As governor, Matt would work with employers and veterans to ensure that veterans’ needs are taken care of.

New Media

Question: Every year has brought new trends to campaigning, facebook, youtube, blogging, twitter. How do you plan to adapt your campaign to take advantage of the new trends?

Best Quote:

This [new media] is our new main street.

Surprise Question

Question: On Facebook, someone said to ask, “If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?”

Best Quote:

The maple is the quintessential tree of Minnesota.

Update note: More interviews with candidates for governor coming, previous interview with John Marty here.