The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 13, 2010

Campaign notebook: Horner says Emmer’s support has peaked

MANKATO — Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner predicted Wednesday that Republican nominee Tom Emmer’s support has peaked at about 28 percent of voters and that the race could come down to a Horner-Dayton battle for undecided voters.

“I wouldn’t trade my position for Tom Emmer’s right now,” Horner said during a visit with The Free Press editorial board. “... I can see my path to victory.”

Horner, who also introduced himself to students at Minnesota State University Wednesday, pointed to a report in the conservative blog Powerline that Emmer received just 41 percent support in a recent poll in the Maple Grove area — a Republican stronghold. By comparison, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty won 55 percent of the vote in the same area in 2006 — eight points better than his statewide average, according to the blog, which stated that the poll number “means that Emmer is in trouble” and that “the campaign is not going well.”

Horner, a former public affairs consultant, said a couple of things need to happen in the final three weeks of the campaign for him to pull ahead of former Sen. Mark Dayton, the Democratic nominee. Upcoming statewide polls need to show Horner with more than 20 percent of the vote so voters aren’t worried about wasting their vote on him, he said. And he said he needs to raise $25,000 to $50,000 a day to finance broadcast ads.

Emmer communications director Carl Kuhl said the Emmer campaign remains confident about its position 20 days before Election Day, predicting that Emmer’s opposition to tax increases and pledge to “grow jobs and not government” will ultimately appeal to a plurality of voters.

He noted that Horner has finished well behind both Dayton and Emmer in all polls.

“He’s a candidate that hasn’t topped 18 percent in any poll to date,” Kuhl said.

Emmer rally Saturday

Horner said south-central Minnesota, an area that has traditionally given Independence Party candidates a higher percentage of their vote than most regions, will be important in his effort to win the three-way race.

Emmer appears to feel the same way. The state lawmaker from Delano will be back in Mankato Saturday for his second rally in two weeks at the Republican headquarters in the Mankato Place mall downtown.

The Mankato rally, one of seven Emmer is holding on a Saturday tour that will stretch from Willmar to Rochester, is scheduled to run from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

More North Stars

Three area Republican candidates were added to the 1st District Republican Party’s North Stars program. Dave Kruse, the challenger to state Rep. Kathy Brynaert of Mankato; Rebecca Peichel, the challenger for Rep. Terry Morrow of St. Peter; and Dave Thul, the challenger to Rep. Kory Kath of Owatonna; were the Round 2 additions to the list.

Eight candidates had previously been designated as North Stars.

The program, created this year, is portrayed as a program to identify the party’s best-organized first-time candidates for extra help in winning open or DFL-held seats.

The party hasn’t announced how much money comes with joining the North Star classification, which has been freely awarded in its first year. Among first-time candidates in the 1st District, 11 are North Stars and only three or four aren’t.

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