A more serious Pentel hopes to shake up the electorate

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Green Party gubernatorial hopeful Ken Pentel is back in politics, four years after a fairly high-profile, but slightly disappointing fourth-place finish in the 2002 governor’s race. Always provocative and articulate, Pentel this time around is not nearly as upbeat as before.

In a recent interview, Pentel said the issues have become “more serious” than they were 2002, when his frisky and erudite campaign challenged opponents Roger Moe, Tim Pawlenty, and Tim Penny to think outside their political paradigms. He’s still pushing environmental issues that don’t get raised very often (“I was talking about global warming in 1989,” he quips), but there’s more urgency to the message.

“We need to hold the culture accountable,” he said. “The culture needs to know the issues.”

And the fundamental issue is simple: “We’re killing our host, planet Earth.”

Pentel insists that the “environmental angle is the social angle,” given that job creation and local investment are intimately linked to strategies that benefit the environment. But the government, he explains, is not “translating” this equation—even though the public mostly understands it. “That’s dysfunctional,” he said.

And it will continue to be dysfunctional so long as the current relationship between corporate money and politics continues. Minnesota, he noted, is number one in the nation in the amount of money spent by political lobbyists.

It is, I suggest, not a particularly hopeful message.

“The hope is in the recognition of the issues,” Pentel replied. “It’s substantive hope rather than hollow hope.”

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