Each in turn, the four leading contenders for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in the Aug. 12 primary have paid a call on the Star Tribune Editorial Board. Here are excerpts of what we heard.
On how he’s different:
I have the best shot at beating Mark Dayton, by far. I believe two things are necessary for us to beat a relatively popular incumbent. One, we need a united and energized Republican base. I’m the only one who can come out of this primary claiming that. That’s what the [Republican Party’s] endorsement is all about.
We also need someone able to pull in independent votes, in pretty large numbers. I’ve done that in a pretty big way, in northern and western Hennepin County. That is an area of the state that we as Republicans rely on heavily to win statewide elections.
I don’t call myself anti-train. I rode a train every single day when I lived in Chicago. For me, what matters in the metro area is: Are you relieving congestion? Are you allowing people to get to where they want to go more easily? The rail projects we’ve been considering don’t. Even the proponents say it isn’t about congestion, it’s about economic development.
I don’t believe we need a gas tax increase. I agree, we are behind in investing in roads and bridges. But the way to catch up is by prioritizing, making sure roads and bridges are at the top of the priority list. You find savings elsewhere. I also think we can save by looking at the regulations we have in place, environmental or prevailing wage.
On how to constrain government:
Government is too big. We spend too much. My goal will be to cut government spending — real cut, not slow the rate of growth. Whether that is 2 percent or 8 percent or 14 percent, I have no clue. But I’m very confident that we are spending more than we need to.
An across-the-board cut is terrible policy. There are some things that government should be doing, and some things government maybe shouldn’t be doing. I don’t believe that everything should be [cut] the same. My goal would be to start auditing programs, measuring the programs that taxpayers fund to see if they are working.
On health care:
The only place where we’re going to save real money in our state budget is on health and human services.
My first goal as governor would be to apply for a waiver from the federal government, exempting us from Obamacare. That’s not completely unrealistic. We had a decent system before Obamacare. Failing that, Plan B, we have MNsure. I don’t believe we should shut it down and shove everybody into a federal exchange. That would just make people go through the whole thing again. I’d do everything I could to remove barriers for the private market to compete in MNsure. That means trying to eliminate as many coverage mandates as we can.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.