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Entenza brings TV's Robinson into politics (updated)

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor Updated: May 27, 2010 - 2:10 PM
The candidates greet supporters Thursday. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune.
 
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza picked Robyne Robinson, who left her anchor post at Fox 9 Wednesday, to run on his ticket.
 
The pick, announced in person on the Minnesota Capitol steps a few minutes after Entenza announced it on Twitter, ended a week's worth of speculation fueled by Robinson's confirmation that she had been asked to run with him.
 
"It’s my distinct pleasure to announce Robyne Robinson @robynempls as my choice for lieutenant governor! Please welcome her aboard," Entenza's staff announced on his Twitter account.
 
In a news release from the Entenza campaign, Robinson said: "Whether it's his vision for the clean energy economy, his dedication to reinvesting in schools, or his commitment to civil rights, Matt has spent his career standing up for Minnesota families. I am humbled and honored that he asked me to join his campaign. I look forward to traveling the state over the next months on the campaign trail and then getting to work making Matt's bold vision a reality."

The mere possibility of an Entenza-Robinson ticket generated more heat for Entenza’s campaign than he’d been able to produce on his own, despite his year long campaign and his first-in-the-race television ad presence. While Fox 9 isn't seen in every corner of the state, she has fans all over and adds star power to his campaign.
“This reinforces our message; we’ve got to do things a new way and we have to get refocused as a state. The old ways aren’t working," Entenza said Thursday.
 
Entenza will vie in DFL primary in August against former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson. Both have already announced their running mates -- Dayton picked state Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon and Kelliher picked former Republican finance officer John Gunyou.
 
Robinson, who was the first African-American local news anchor, ended two decades on the air Wednesday, a retirement she announced several weeks ago. On her last 5 p.m. newscast, she read a poll about the Minnesota governor's race, which included the candidate whose ticket she was about to join. The next thing on the air was an Entenza ad.
 
If the ticket wins, Robinson would be the first African-American lieutenant governor. But she’s not the first African-American candidate for the spot. Back in 1990, Independent-Republican candidate for governor Doug Kelley picked doctor and Eden Prairie City Council member Jean Harris as his running mate.
 
Her switch from TV to LG raised some eyebrows but she is far from the first to turn off media and turn onto Minnesota politics. Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams sashayed  from an anchor spot at KMSP to a run for the U.S. House and then the U.S. Senate. Former radio show host Jesse Ventura moved from the Brooklyn Park mayor’s office to the governor’s office. Saturday Night Live Star Al Franken made the bumpy trip from liberal radio host to the U.S. Senate. R.T. Rybak had some years as a reporter for this newspaper under his belt before he jumped into business and eventually Minneapolis City Hall.

Like those others, Robinson has long been in the public eye but untested in politics. Robinson hasn’t been directly involved in Minnesota elections -- she hasn’t made any political donations, according to state and federal records. But her leanings haven’t been a mystery. More than a decade ago, she had a wall’s worth of political buttons that included, "I believe Anita," "Jesse Jackson," and "U.S. Out of Persian Gulf."
 
On Thursday, she described herself as someone who has voted for Democrats and independents.
 
Robinson has been able to blend her personal and professional interests throughout her career. She’s been a long time promoter of local arts scene on television and has a local art gallery. More recently, as her jewelry design business has taken off, she’s blogged that she used her press pass to move into prime positions at New York’s fashion week.
 
At the Capitol news conference she said she plans to continue her jewelry business through the campaign.
 
Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton Thursday dismissed Entenza's pick as a "Hail Mary" pass.
 
"Unfortunately for Entenza, his running mate’s glamour can’t make his long record as a tax and spend liberal who will raise taxes and increase spending any more appealing,” Sutton said in a release.

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