This election is very simple. We cannot grow our way out of this mess, and we cannot tax our way out of it. We must spend less. We must live within our means.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer and the Republicans are the only ones talking about real cuts in spending. Minnesotans have a clear choice to get Minnesota back on track.


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Why do middle-class families pay 40 percent more of their incomes in state and local taxes than the richest Minnesotans do?

This isn't "progressive" Minnesota, or even "flat-tax" Minnesota -- it's "regressive" Minnesota.

Over a 16-year period from 1990 to 2006, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, middle-income families' taxes went up from 11.45 percent to 12.3 percent of their incomes, while the richest families' taxes went down from 11.2 percent to 8.9 percent!

For the past 20 years, our tax system has been going in the wrong direction for the bottom 90 percent of Minnesota families.

Why hasn't this "tax the middle class" system been corrected? The only candidate for governor who has even tried to address this inequity is Mark Dayton. The other two candidates' proposals would continue to make our tax system even more regressive. It is time for a change that will be fair to the middle class.


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New York Times columnist and Minnesota native Thomas Friedman recently wrote a piece titled "Third party rising," in which he said there is a revolution brewing in the radical center. Our two-party system, Friedman said, "lacks ... creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems."

I'm backing Tom Horner. Not because he's the compromise choice, but because he's the best choice. Period. No apologies. I speak for a lot of loyal Republicans and Democrats whose party chose to endorse the wrong candidate; someone they simply can't support. We are a state full of moderate, reasonable people. Let's not go quietly into the night and get out shouted by the minorities on the left or right. This year, good citizenship trumps party loyalty.

Don't let the hard-liners tell you how you are wasting your vote. Look at any poll. Way more than half of us are moderates and independents. Horner needs less than half to win.

This is a call to arms for centrists. Let's get off the porch and tell our neighbors what we are thinking. Do your homework. Stand your ground. That's what Horner is doing. Take a look at his thoughtful plans on jobs, health care and education. Sensible stuff.

There are more of us. We don't have the big money from our national party. We don't have phone banks. But, we do have common sense on our side. There's no reason we should be outshouted or outvoted. Let's take back our state.


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Emmer as the compromise candidate? While the title may seem nonsensical, an examination of recent budget-balancing tools combined with a pragmatic election forecast may prove the title accurate.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and DFL legislative leaders were collectively given a free pass in balancing the previous deficit by using federal aid, the school accounting shift and unallotments. The federal money is gone; we can't keep shifting payments to the schools, and unallotments are not permissible after the ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Therefore, the projected $6 billion deficit is real, and the choices are limited to increasing revenue (taxes) or decreasing expenses (reforming government).

While many were enamored by Horner and his position in the middle, if one assumes lightning will not strike twice, Horner will not be governor. Mark Dayton and Emmer will each attract their respective bases. The Republicans will make gains in the state House and Senate, but the Democrats will still have control.

The next governor and a DFL Legislature will each create a biannual budget. If Dayton wins, billions in new taxes are coming. If Emmer wins, there will be a very heated battle in St. Paul. No party wants to shut down the state government for two years. In the end, Emmer and the Legislature will be forced to compromise for the betterment of the people. Thus Emmer is the compromise candidate.


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Every Minnesotan has been asked to sacrifice in these last few years of recession and budget deficits. Everyone, that is, except the wealthiest.

Small-time landlords like me have to pay a $322 filing fee in housing court (about one-third more than two years ago). Public college and university students have seen tuition and fees soar. Low-income moms struggling toward self-sufficiency can't get help with child care costs, so they have to quit work. If you want to start a new line of work, whether as a cosmetologist, psychologist or private detective, the fees for a professional license have skyrocketed. Thousands of Minnesotans are unemployed, but the workforce center counselors who help them have been laid off, too.

Apparently all that's just fine with Tom Emmer; he'd continue along the same path. Rather than reset the tax rate on the wealthiest to what it was under Gov. Arne Carlson -- hardly a soaking -- he'd keep tightening the screws on low-income and middle-class Minnesotans.

Let's not give him the chance. Vote for Dayton.


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Minnesota citizens are challenged to select the person who can best lead our state forward from a long period of political contentiousness that has produced little other than deepening problems.

It may seem strange that in such times the person most capable to lead is the one who is the least political, and Horner is that person.

We are presented with a choice of three major candidates, each of whom is qualified in various ways: Two of them represent the extremes of the political left and right in our state. The choice of either candidate would result in the continuation of the political contentiousness of the last dozen years as legislative caucuses, Republican and Democratic, seek to discredit whichever governor might be selected from the opposite party.

Minnesota needs a governor who is skilled not in political rhetoric or gamesmanship but who possesses the skills to bring opposing sides together in cooperative action. Horner will find constructive solutions to the problems that confront our state. Governing from either the right or left extreme is bound to produce nothing but continuing inaction.

In 1979, I was given the unique opportunity to serve as speaker of the equally divided Minnesota House of Representatives; such a division had never occurred before and has not since. Organization and functioning of the 67 Democrats and 67 Republicans was impossible under the traditional methods of political power.

Out of necessity, and challenged by the legislative concerns of the times, raw politics was minimized, and a system of balance, cooperation and mutual respect produced workable solutions to the problems that confronted us.

Horner is not just one person who can govern cooperatively from the center; he is the only one in the race who can.

When you consider his lifetime of communication skills and political experience, he clearly is the person we need to lead with legislators in solving the problems that years of political angst have produced.


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When the family is right, then the budget and the economy will be right.

Emmer is the only prolife and profamily candidate for governor. He is my choice by far.


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Dayton possesses the right blend of business sense, experience in job creation and dedication to our Minnesota values to succeed as a strong Minnesota governor.

Others may balance the budget, but Mark will do it in a way that champions the needs of children and seniors and supports the aspirations of families and working adults.

Throughout this campaign, Mark has demonstrated level-headedness, foresight, sound planning, fairness, respect for others and compassion.

Dayton is the complete package; don't settle for less.


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Times are tough, and Minnesota needs creative, steady and collaborative leadership to move us forward.

I had the opportunity to closely work with Tom Horner and his business partner for 13 years. It was an incredible, valuable personal and professional experience.

He is a thoughtful, critical thinker who fosters an environment of openness and collaboration in all that he leads, whether for clients, his countless community volunteer activities or his employees. His passion is contagious, and his ethics are impeccable.

I offer another perspective as a former mayor -- Horner and his running mate Jim Mulder are brilliant public policy leaders who will champion a new era of much-needed reform and collaboration between local government and the state.

As a friend, mentor and former employer, I admire Horner and his vision for a new Minnesota. He's got my vote and deserves yours.


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I'm sure I'm not alone looking forward to next Tuesday's election, the end of political campaign advertising, and being able to enjoy TV again.

The most offensive ad of all is now suddenly reappearing in the final days linking Tom Emmer to the tragic death of a woman's teenage son. I am deeply offended by this unfair implication.


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Did you know Mark Dayton traveled unannounced to Wadena in late June to spend a day working with tornado relief workers?

No press coverage. No advance announcement. Just an extraordinary guy with a big heart.

The kind of guy I want for my governor.