In an e-mail, a tweet and the launch of a website, businessman Scott Honour on Wednesday became the first high-profile Republican to challenge DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s bid for re-election.
“I fear that our state is headed in the wrong direction and under the wrong leadership. I know that the same people with the same political résumés are not going to solve our problems,” said Honour, who lives in Wayzata. “I know what it’s like to start with nothing and build a successful business and a strong family. I want to help others do the same.”
Honour’s announcement kicks off the 2014 governor’s race in earnest, raising the pressure on others Republicans to make their political intentions clear. It also turns up the heat on Dayton to assemble his political team, at the same time he grapples with bringing the legislative session to a tidy conclusion.
Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said the governor welcomes Honour to the race.
“We certainly expect that there will be many others,” Tinucci said, adding that Dayton is focused on his job, not the 2014 campaign. She said Dayton will not engage any of the Republican hopefuls individually before their party settles on a pick.
Other DFLers were happy to engage. The big-spending Alliance for a Better Minnesota launched a website trashing Honour and other potential Republican candidates. DFL Party chair Ken Martin, too, was ready with an attack.
“Scott Honour is Minnesota’s Mitt Romney,” Martin said. “After spending decades in corporate boardrooms getting rich at the expense of everyday people, he’s now trying to parachute in from California to convince Minnesotans that our state should be run like a private equity firm.”
Honour was born in Fridley and stepped down as senior managing director of Gores Group, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm, last year saying he wanted to focus on public service in Minnesota.
In his own bio Honour, who gave at least $100,000 to Republican candidates and causes in the last election, presents a different portrait of his work. He said he discovered when he was young that, “with a little help and faith in a new path, people can get back on their feet, if government doesn’t get in the way.”
Of his work, he said: “We saved and created jobs … If we pursue the right policies in St Paul, we can give the same sense of hope and purpose to thousands of Minnesotans.”
He refused interviews with Minnesota media outlets on Wednesday but told the Wall Street Journal that: “The election’s next year but there’s a lot of wood to chop between now and then … I don’t have any name recognition.”
Other Republicans who have been considering a gubernatorial run said Honour’s announcement does not alter their plans.
“It doesn’t change anything in my life,” said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. Republican Sen. Dave Thompson, of Lakeville, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson said similar things.
Johnson added that he likes Honour and agrees with him that it’s time for someone new in the governor’s office.
“The question is, who that is,” Johnson said.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB