Gov. Tim Pawlenty told Minnesota Republicans this weekend that voting for Tom Horner, a former Republican running for governor on the Independence Party ticket, would spell disaster for GOP-endorsed candidate Tom Emmer’s chances at the governor’s mansion. The Minnesota GOP has increased its attacks on Horner in recent weeks as Horner picks up the support of moderate Republicans.
“I’ve known Tom Horner for 30 years, and while he’s a decent man, his proposals to raise billions in new taxes and allow government to grow unsustainably will take Minnesota in the wrong direction,” Pawlenty wrote in a statement released Sunday. “Any Republican who votes for Tom Horner is not only helping Mark Dayton become governor, but casting a vote to undo the tax and spending cuts we’ve fought so hard for over the last 8 years.”
He continued, “These are challenging times for our country and state. If you are concerned about your future, about creating jobs, and moving our state forward, Tom Horner and Mark Dayton represent the same wrong choice. Tom Emmer is the only candidate for governor who will fight to ensure we create jobs in Minnesota and enjoy a better future.”
Horner has been polling in the mid-teens in most surveys while Emmer and Dayton hover in the high 30s to low 40s. Last week Horner picked up the support of 13 former Republican legislators, which prompted harsh – and controversial – words from GOP chair Tony Sutton. Sutton used a Nazi reference and said there’s a “special place in hell” for them.
Horner shot back at the governor, saying Pawlenty’s aligned himself with Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin in order to jumpstart his presidential ambitions.
“Gov. Pawlenty is a decent person, but his policies have left Minnesota with job creation that has lagged the nation during much of the last decade, in good years and bad. That’s not a record Minnesota can afford in the next four years,” he said. “The most telling part of the endorsement, though, is that the Republican nominee hasn’t been able to secure the endorsement of a Republican governor until little more than three weeks left in the campaign. It speaks volumes about the reluctance of Gov. Pawlenty to jeopardize his national ambitions by tying himself to a gubernatorial candidate who increasingly is the choice only of Palin-Bachmann Republicans.”
While the GOP has tried to paint Horner as a tax-and-spend liberal and lump him in with Dayton, the DFL and liberal groups have been hammering on Horner’s Republican past. Over the weekend, the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Minnesota released a television ad that attempts to tie Horner to Pawlenty.