Striving to distance herself from "cookie-cutter conservatism," former State Auditor Pat Anderson launched her campaign Monday as a Republican candidate for governor, denouncing both the corporate income tax and special business subsidies.
"I am a pro-market Republican, I am not a so-called pro-business Republican," Anderson said, as she formally announced her campaign in the rotunda at the State Capitol.
She said Minnesotans are understandably "frustrated with both Republicans and Democrats," and pledged "to change the debate."
Still, Anderson shares many of the beliefs of other Republicans in the race for governor, including opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. To close an expected billion-dollar budget gap, she proposed cutting government spending but wasn't specific about what to cut.
Anderson also called for extending the sales tax to clothing purchases and services, and for lowering personal income taxes "across the board."
She was flanked by family and a small band of supporters during her announcement at the Capitol, which began a 14-stop tour around the state.
In criticizing taxpayer-financed subsidies for some businesses, Anderson said she opposed the JOBZ program pushed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a fellow Republican. The program waives taxes for targeted businesses in an effort to create jobs, but has been accused of lacking accountability and harming unsubsidized businesses.
"I believe that we need to have a level playing ground for all business, and we need to have a positive business climate, but it is not government's role to pick and choose winners or losers," she said.
Anderson is the only one of eight Republican candidates for governor who has been elected to a statewide office, serving as auditor from 2003 to 2007. She recently finished third in a straw poll of party delegates. She vowed to abide by the party endorsement.
Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said Anderson's tenure as auditor should help boost her name recognition, though the recognition would be more positive if she hadn't been defeated for reelection in 2006. "When you lose statewide, it's on your record," he said.
Still, he said, her job as auditor is a plus because she's a known quantity to party activists and is running in "a pretty obscure field" of Republican candidates.
DFLer Rebecca Otto defeated Anderson in 2006, alleging that the incumbent shaded audits in a partisan way. Anderson denied the claim, calling her audits "dead-on."
Anderson also served as Commissioner of Employee Relations in 2007 and part of 2008, managing its merger with the Minnesota Department of Finance. She is 43 and lives in Dellwood.
The others running as Republicans are state Rep. Marty Seifert, a former House minority leader; state Sens. David Hann and Michael Jungbauer, state Rep. Tom Emmer, former state Rep. Bill Haas, party activist Phil Herwig and frequent candidate Leslie Davis.
The DFL candidates are House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Sens. Tom Bakk and John Marty, state Reps. Tom Rukavina and Paul Thissen, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, former state Sen. Steve Kelley, former state Rep. Matt Entenza, lobbyist Peter Roess and frequent candidate Ole Savior.
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