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Jul 19th, 2010

It’s been a good week for Independent Tom Horner’s campaign for governor of Minnesota. Not only did Horner meet his July 19 fundraising goal to qualify for public campaign funds, he also attracted favorable media attention highlighting the fact that he can win in November.


Public Money’s Political Power

By Lori Sturdevant
Star Tribune
June 16, 2010

A happy Tom Horner personally served notice Friday that his Independence Party campaign for governor had crossed an important threshhold. It had collected more than the 700 $50 contributions required to qualify for a public campaign subsidy later this year, with three days to spare before the deadline. If he wins the IP primary, his campaign stands to receive an estimated $241,500 in time for the general election, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

A quick Google search unearthed an explanation for Horner’s excitement. An analysis of Gov. Jesse Ventura’s 1998 victory by state Senate counsel Peter Wattson, dating from 1999, is entitled “How Minnesota’s campaign finance law helped elect a third-party governor.”

It relates how Ventura’s ability to borrow money against that year’s expected $310,000 public subsidy for gubernatorial candidates made it possible for him to air TV ads and do a credibility-building campaign tour just before the election. Lacking those things, most analysts believe that Ventura would not have been the winner of that year’s three-way race. …

Full story


Horner, IP Eye Middle Ground

Former GOPer sees a perilous political impasse

By Dennis Lien
Pioneer Press
July 18, 2010


Tom Horner used to be a go-to Republican political commentator on television and radio.

Then he watched his party, once filled with moderates like Dave Durenberger, Arne Carlson and Jim Ramstad, turn to more conservative leaders such as Michele Bachmann [link added].

In a nutshell, that’s how Horner, a 59-year-old public relations executive, finds himself with the Independence Party endorsement for Minnesota governor. The Republican base, he said, has moved too far to the right, where its battles with Democrats on the partisan fringe have produced one political standoff and budget impasse after another. …

Within that great divide, Horner sees a large middle ground, where people want decisions made not for political purposes but for what’s best for Minnesota. …

Feeling outside GOP mainstream

Born in Minneapolis, Horner graduated from Benilde High School (now Benilde-St. Margaret’s) and the College of St. Thomas. His father, Jack, was a well-known radio and television broadcaster.

After moving to New York and working in marketing for Kinney Shoes, Horner returned to Minnesota, got a reporting job with the suburban Sun newspapers, eventually became managing editor, and then quit to work for Durenberger, who was elected U.S. senator in 1978. He started as press secretary and finished as chief of staff.

On his first day in Washington, he met his future wife, Libby, who was working for outgoing Sen. Muriel Humphrey. In the mid-1980s, they returned to Minnesota, where he headed a public relations company. …

In 1989, he co-founded Himle-Horner, Inc., a successful public relations and public affairs firm. …

Feeling increasingly outside the Republican mainstream, Horner said, he became especially disenchanted two years ago when Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate and Bachmann, Minnesota’s 6th District representative, emerged as a standard bearer for the party.

A year ago, he said an Independence Party representative asked him to consider running for governor.

“In all honesty, I wasn’t particularly interested in running for office,” Horner said.

But he said he was concerned about where the state was heading and the two major parties’ emerging options for governor.

“Libby and I sat down and talked, and what really came home to us was our three kids — (ages) 26, 24, 21 — aren’t going to have the opportunities to have the same kind of professional careers Libby and I have had and the same community involvement I enjoyed … if we don’t start turning Minnesota around,” he said.

Horner said he decided to explore a run in January and made the decision in early May, after state Rep. Tom Emmer defeated Rep. Marty Seifert for the Republican endorsement and just before the Independence Party convention.

“Marty Seifert is a person I have a great deal of respect for,” he said. “When Marty Seifert is too moderate for the Republican Party, that is a party that is too far off the cliff.” …

Defined government is goal

“I always have been comfortable with that centrist Republican approach: defined government, limited taxation, clear roles for government at each level. Through it all, I always believed there is a role for government at times in peoples’ lives when they are vulnerable.”

Instead of parroting one set of ideas or the other, he said he seeks balanced solutions that would make the state a better place to live.

With the state facing what’s likely to be a $6 billion budget deficit, he said the state must cut some taxes, particularly for businesses, but raise others. Meanwhile, he said, spending must be cut, with many budgets and programs taking big hits or being scrapped.

Areas that deserve attention, he said, include early-childhood education; research that would help Minnesota grow; transit opportunities that help people and freight to move; the environment; health care; and transportation infrastructure.

When people ask how his administration would govern, he said he reminds them of the early years of the Jesse Ventura administration, when agency appointments garnered widespread praise for their abilities.

“That’s the (type of) Cabinet I am appointing,” Horner said. “I know who those people are.”

Before he can, he must get elected, and that’s always a tough prospect for a third-party candidate.

In 1998, Ventura rode celebrity and an authenticity that resonated with the public to a narrow win. In 2002, former U.S. Rep. Tim Penny was in a close race until he fell off badly at the end, losing to Tim Pawlenty. …

Horner doesn’t have Ventura’s over-the-top personality or Penny’s name recognition.

About to turn 60, Horner doesn’t dominate a room like Ventura, but like him, he’s got a voice that can project. He wears glasses, has a full head of graying hair, and on the campaign trail wears natty clothes, often without a tie.

He estimated he’ll need $2.5 million to $3 million to get his message out — almost three times what Penny spent eight years ago.

“It’s too early to say I will raise the money,” he said. “I think it’s a daunting challenge. But if I can raise the money, I think this is a year solutions win, ideas win and leadership wins.”

A ‘promising environment’

Can he do it? Possibly.

“He is in a good position,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. “There is a very high level of political distrust, and there are polls showing Americans are about as distrustful of the political environment as they have been in some time.”

“That’s a very promising environment for a reformist third-party candidate,” he said.

Horner, he said, is well known among the “chattering class” of political enthusiasts. But he added that hardly anyone else knows him, and he doesn’t have a large campaign organization behind him. Then, there’s all that money to raise.

John Wodele, a St. Paul-based communications and media consultant who was Ventura’s spokesman, predicted things will have to break right for Horner to prevail.

“Looking at it objectively, it’s a tough climb for Tom,” Wodele said. “I think it will be very difficult for him to be successful and win. For him to be successful, I think some event will have to occur that will damage his two opponents.”

One advantage, Wodele said, is Horner isn’t nearly as tied to the status quo as the other candidates.

“He brings to the race an independence of the legislative environment and political environment that Emmer and (former U.S. Sen. Mark) Dayton, (former Minnesota state Rep. Matt) Entenza and the (House) speaker (Margaret Anderson Kelliher) all have. I think that, from a sort of general perspective, that is a good thing. And perhaps this year, it might be a better thing for his fortunes.”

Moderate alternative

Still, he’s attracted backing from some well-known names, including Durenberger, his old boss.

Penny, a former Democratic congressman who switched to the Independence Party for the 2002 gubernatorial run, said he believes Horner is drawing interest from moderate Republicans and has a good chance of luring moderate Democrats as the election nears.

He said Horner has “a unique set of skills,” having worked extensively on public policy issues, in business and in community service.

“But the bottom line with Tom, I think, is he has some wonderful leadership traits,” Penny said. “When you see him in action, you see a leader. He knows how to frame issues, how to inspire people and to bring people together.”

Former Republican state Sen. George Pillsbury of Orono sees Horner as a moderate alternative to candidates advocating policies that could harm the state.

“Hopefully, there will be a lot of people flocking to him because he’s more reasonable than the Republican candidate and more responsible than whoever is the Democratic candidate,” Pillsbury said. …

Full story


Other recent reports

Tom Horner: Targeting the middle ground
(Jim Spencer, Star Tribune, July 11, 2010)

IP candidate Horner has plan to strengthen communities
(Joe Kimball, MinnPost, July 15, 2010)

Horner hopes to pump the economy
(Mark Fischenich, Mankato Free Press, July 16, 2010)


For more information about Tom Horner’s campaign for governor, visit And please remember, Tom needs a strong voter turnout in the August 10 primary.


Related reports on this site

Vote Tom Horner Aug. 10 Primary (Aug. 2, 2010)

Horner Campaign at Granite City (June 26, 2010)

Tom Horner for Governor of Minnesota campaign at Granite City Days parade, St. Cloud, Minn., June 26, 2010. (Photo: Aubrey Immelman)

Tom Horner Rises in the Polls (June 8, 2010)

Tom Horner for Minnesota Governor
“I’ve been watching the Republican Party devolve with the rise of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin … in the willingness to pander to the extreme right wing.” — Tom Horner

Tom Horner’s Statewide Swing (May 12, 2010)

Aubrey Immelman welcomes Tom Horner to St. Cloud for his press conference at Stop Light Bait, May 12, 2010.
Sixth District independent congressional candidate Aubrey Immelman welcomes Tom Horner to St. Cloud for his press conference at Stop Light Bait ahead of Minnesota’s fishing opener, May 12, 2010.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — July 19, 2009

Captured U.S. Soldier Identified


Captured soldier ID’d as 23-year-old (MSNBC, July 19, 2009) — A U.S. soldier who is apparently being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan has been identified as 23-year-old Bowe Bergdahl of Ketchum, Idaho. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (02:43)

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that the Pentagon had identified the captured American soldier who went missing from his forward operating base in Afghanistan as Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, Ketchum, Idaho, a member of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — July 19, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day Five

Two-year retrospective: Two years ago today, on the fifth day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I highlighted the growing mortgage crisis, noting that from a small-government, fiscally conservative perspective it is difficult to support the Bush administration plan to bail out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

14 Responses to “Horner 2010 Gains Momentum”
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