Horner reaching out to moderates

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, August 21, 2010

Independent candidate for Minnesota governor, Tom Horner, brought his campaign to the Coffee House on Main Friday morning. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner swung through Austin Friday to discuss how he’s going to reach moderate Minnesota voters on both sides of the isle.

Horner, who announced his campaign in the spring, has said from the beginning that Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton sit too far to the right and left — and he hasn’t changed his mind.

“I think Minnesotans are going to see that we are just too polarized,” Horner said Friday during his visit.

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Horner won the Independence primaries by a substantial margin, easily claiming the top spot. Though that may have been a victory in his campaign, the number of votes he received in the primaries didn’t come close to those cast for Emmer and Dayton.

That doesn’t concern Horner, who said the election after the primaries is a whole new ball game.

Balancing the budget and getting Minnesota back on track is Horner’s main focus. A business man himself — and first-time politician — Horner said he’s had experience running a business, and he hopes to take that experience and implement it into the state’s budget balancing process.

“I’ve signed the front of a paycheck and the back of a paycheck,” Horner said.

Horner has been critical of Sen. Mark Dayton’s plans to tax the rich — those earning above $130,000 — in order to make up for the state’s budget downfalls.

The way Horner sees it, that may not be the right way to go, as he said it’s likely to have an impact on small businesses, which play a large role in the state’s economy.

“His proposal falls too heavy on small businesses,” Horner said of Dayton’s plans. “We need to grow the economy.”

Horner said a broadened sales tax and breaks for those seeking to purchase capital equipment, such as budding manufacturers, would help the state’s economy along.

The sales tax, Horner said, would apply to everyone in the state, and would mean that those who do spend more would inadvertently end up contributing more in the way of sales tax. Those traveling to Minnesota would also be helping the state out, Horner said.

Horner’s position on federal No Child Left Behind issues has played into his campaign. With criticism surrounding the federal standards, Horner said he does see the value in the federal mandates that require schools to prove yearly progress. While there may be some flaws to the system, Horner said it’s put a spotlight on the need to hold schools accountable.

“Without it, I don’t think we’d have that focus on achievement,” Horner said.

On the downside, Horner said he understands it requires teachers to teach for the test, which he said may not always be the best for students.

That’s another issue that piques interest from those on both sides of the isle, with democrats traditionally more critical of the federal guidelines than those on the right.

With a plan to draw moderate voters from both major parties, Horner plans to make himself more visible within the next few months. His first step will be to release advertising campaigns through television, radio and print. Equipped with what Horner feels is enough money and support to carry him through, he’s looking to Nov. 2 with confidence that his moderate views will resonate with Minnesota voters.