The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 12, 2009

GOP governor hopefuls agree to agree

Limited government supported at Mankato forum

MANKATO — Promising to cut the size and reach of government, to focus on market-based health care and to slash welfare benefits, the four leading Republican contenders for governor generated smiles and applause from a largely Republican crowd at Minnesota State University Thursday night.

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record ...,” Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie said after listening to Pat Anderson and Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano talk about the importance of reducing taxes and regulation in boosting job growth in Minnesota.

When Anderson, a former state auditor and Eagan mayor, followed Hann, Emmer and Rep. Marty Seifert in answering a question about changes in Minnesota’s welfare benefits, she’d found most of her points already stated.

“Unfortunately,” Anderson said, “when you go last there’s not much to say. Many of us have very similar positions on the issues.”

From Emmer: “... We have become a magnet for people who come to this state simply for the welfare benefits. ... Give people a job and they will be able to support themselves.”

From Hann: “We want people to come here to work. ... We want them to come here to contribute.”

From Seifert: “We need to right-size and down-size the system so we don’t become a magnet. ... I don’t blame the people, I blame the system. The system needs reform.”

While the 90-minute forum may have sounded like a quartet singing in perfect harmony, the audience of nearly 70 got a good sample of the styles of the top contenders in the GOP race to replace Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty — who is not seeking re-election after two terms.

Seifert, a college admissions counselor from Marshall who served as Republican leader of the House, won 37 percent of the vote in a straw poll at the Republican state convention last month. Emmer, an attorney and three-term member of the House, finished second with 23 percent. Anderson (14 percent) and Hann (12 percent) trailed, but topped the three other remaining candidates in the Republican field.

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